North Carolina born, Johnathan Wyatt, came under my radar under one of his alias names- Fin. His music is a diverse mix of instrumental hip-hop. Jonathan has released house music under the alias, Kaepora Gaebor. He has also released Vapour wave beats under the Alias, Fiji, and prompted me to find him on Instagram.
There were two other reasons I decided I want to find out more about him and his work. Two things about Jonathan stand out.
His collaboration on the track ‘Obsession Depression’ with his close friend, Skyler Nelson, (PKSkyler) a rapper based in San Diago, California on ambient Agape Records vol 1 album for U.K. based label Agape records -all proceeds went to MIND (mental health) Charity.
His dedication and maturity for his passion to create music in the past 5 years are astounding. Fin is 17 years old. He has released 3 albums, 6 EP’S and several demos and his next album –Näherin due to drop on 6th November 2020.
‘Tower’ is taken from his latest album.
When I asked Jonathan to what words came to mind when on MENTAL HEALTH & CREATIVITY) (CREATIVITY his answers were -Process, Inspiration, Expression. Frustration, Anxiety and Depression.
ON DEPRESSION OBSESSION
For Depression Obsession, the song I produced for PKSkyler on
(AGAPE Volume 1), Skyler just messaged me one day asking if I was interested in making a track for a charity compilation. We didn’t have a theme to start with, other than that it was mostly ambient music on the compilation and the person who started it was doing it as a tribute to a friend of theirs who had overdosed a few months prior. The song came together really quickly since we had a deadline to submit.
It was great to be a part of a project that feels so personal, with so many talented musicians as well. I’ve dealt with anxiety since a pretty young age, and have had some issues with depression over the past couple of years, so the links between mental health and creativity are very important to me.
I started with a sample from a song by one of my favourite bands, Azeda Booth. I laid some drums and bass down and had the rough bones of the beat. I sent a snippet of this to PK, and we both figured it should go in a more ambient direction, to fit with the other songs on the compilation. That’s when I thought of the concept of the track having two halves, with the first half being a normal rap structure for his verse and hook, and the second half being entirely beatless and ambient. I put some airy vocal chops from a Frou Frou song, some details, and the droney ambient section for the outro. I sent the instrumental to PK, he liked it, laid his vocals down, sent them back to mix, and the song was done.
FIN ON FIN
I make a lot of different kinds of music, but the sound that’s compelling to me is anything sample-based. I’ll usually buy cheap records from thrift shops and record stores, skim through them, and try to combine as many elements as I can into a cohesive piece. I do play a handful of instruments and write original music, but sampling is something I’m really, really passionate about. I think it deserves a lot of credit not just as a compositional tool, but as an art form all its own. It’s almost post-modern in a way, with the constant recontextualization of recognizable material.
When I was young, maybe around 7 or 8, I was obsessed with Micheal Jackson. I don’t even remember how I got interested in him, lol. I listened to his music religiously, had all the costumes, took a few dance classes, everything. This was before I ever considered playing an instrument, it was probably a big part of me getting deep into music later in life.
I started playing the guitar when I was 11, and about a year later I got obsessed with the idea of writing and recording my music. I got really into the idea of not needing a band or recording studio and doing everything myself. I started taking piano lessons, got a cheap bass, and took over my sister’s drumkit. I made about 3 albums worth of really crappy indie rock before getting interested in electronic music. I messed around with drum & bass, synthwave, and chiptune sounds before I got into sampling and beat-making. This was also around the time I met a few rappers and my friend Skyler (PKSkyler) on Facebook. I was super into the then growing vaporwave and cloud rap scene and was making loads of beats in that style. Those beats ended up on PKSkyler’s first album,Life of Skyler ). I would’ve been around 13 years old at this time.
Probably around age 14 is when I got into buying and sampling records. I was taking drum lessons, and it turned out my teacher was a huge hip-hop head and producer. He really pushed me towards where I’m at musically now. He’d bring stacks of records for me to sample, let me borrow his SP-404 sampler for a few months, and was a massive influence on my album Berkeley.
I’m 17 now, and ever since then I’ve been constantly working on and releasing new music. Over the past 2 years, I’ve released 3 albums, 6 EPs, and 4 beat tapes.
For the stuff I make as Fin, it was lo-fi artists like Mndsgn, Knxwledge, and of course Dilla. About halfway through the production of my first album, Berkeley, I heard DJ Shadow’s Endtroducing, and that changed my path. I was obsessed with the idea of making structured songs out of samples, instead of short beats. Even when I didn’t have the skill or knowledge to pull it off, I’d try to work in shifting structures and distinct sections in my tracks, for better or for worse.
I always try to have a theme to each big project I do, whether it’s just a palette of sounds that the tracks share, or something more focused. My EP, Substance for the Shadow was based around the idea of making something influenced by soundtracks, post-rock, and krautrock, and writing everything from scratch without sampling.
For the beats I was making for PKSkyler as Fiji, it was a lot of cloud rap and vaporwave, like Yung Lean and Blank Banshee. I was also sampling a lot of soundtracks, mostly old JRPGs and Earthbound.
ON INFLUENCES, THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
(In my hometown) the music scene basically non-existent, lol.
It’s a rural area with a pretty small population. It’s not far from Raleigh, which is a pretty big city with plenty of local bands, musicians, and venues, but obviously, I haven’t been able to go to any shows for the better part of this year. I try not to let that stop me, though, I’ve never really collaborated with anyone in person anyway, never been in a band either. I’m very much used to collaborating online, sending stuff back and forth through email, etc.
I’ve met some of my best friends through the internet, and there are so many niche artists and scenes that would’ve never found an audience through the internet. Things like vaporwave netlabels, obscure lo-fi hip hop releases, and the culture surrounding Bandcamp could’ve never existed 20 years ago.
On the other hand, there’s so much music being released right now, it can be hard to break through and find an audience. If there’s a genre you like and want to hear more of, there are hundreds of albums being released online every day in that style. It’s a blessing and a curse.
As far as finding success in music right now, it goes back to what I said before about breaking through the sheer amount of music being made right now. I’ve seen the lengths musicians go to gain listeners, it’s kinda sad.
I’m not the biggest fan of the things a lot of artists are doing right to be seen, like gaming the Spotify algorithms, hiring ad agencies to make songs go viral, etc. It doesn’t feel very genuine. Either way, commercial success isn’t really what I’m looking for in music, that’s never been my goal.
ON LATEST ALBUM AND UPCOMING PROJECTS
I have some songs I’m working on right now is a bit more of a downtempo and electronic-tinged direction. Still sample-based hip hop, but more atmospheric, with a big focus on texture and lo-fi sounds. I also produced and mixed a bunch of the songs on PKSkyler’s newest mixtape, which should be out very soon.
My new album Näherin is out now on my Bandcamp. It’s a 13 track instrumental hip-hop album touching on some elements of trip-hop, boom-bap, and downtempo. It’ll be on Spotify and Apple Music within the next week or two. I’ve also got cassettes that I did in a bootleg-y DIY style. I hand recorded each tape and printed the labels and J-cards myself, instead of going through a duplication service. I also produced 10 of the 16 tracks on PKSkyler’s newest album Lost in Darkness, which came out in April.
Thank you for listening.
“Who says nothing is impossible? I’ve been doing nothing for years.” -UNKNOWN
Ha! I love this quote. I very rarely let myself truly chill out and veg. This weekend was the first weekend and time in over a year that I have given my mind and body a true chance to chill and enjoy being in the moment.
Why do we think that what we do is– nothing? not enough?
I look back over the years and, at this moment in time, no, I don’t have a 9-5 job.
However, I have been working harder than I would, ( I am talking about me here), say if I had been working in a 9-5 job.
I’ve only just realised how important it is to take some time away from my work and what I do.
I love being active and in the last couple weeks-everything, I love to do stopped being fun any more.
I was even getting stressed out about some of the things I do to wind down, an example is Blogging. It was having the opposite effect. I was getting way too grumpy.
I even thought of taking a break from it.
I have just realised that all I needed was a couple of days to
not get too worried about being up to date with my posts
not work out to my most difficult dance work out session
not only seeming to eat bloody fruit until the wedding.
not having to be the most awesome .. insert title here……
not worry an have that inner belief that I can give my all in whatever I have going on next week.
It’s Sunday and I woke up at 10. It does help to have a Bella Bee free night.
I didn’t wake up at 5 am to start blogging and reading blogs. I know I can do that later on today and this week and next week and the week after that.
Here is the philosophical bit.
I don’t know if it is age but my mental state is finally starting to shift.
I have my goals but I have finally started to stop trying to prove to people that they have to like me or what I do or say or write.
I care about a lot of people and support many people here and in my “real life” but I now know I don’t need their approval.
Not all people will get me or you.
Don’t take it to heart.
Usually, if someone seems to ignore you, is hostile, is not consistent with how they treat you. If you are always left feeling drained or uncomfortable and generally bummed out around certain people.
99% of the time, it is not something you need to figure out.
It is usually all about what that person has going on in their head.
People who judge and are critical to others, try and target the people who are themselves and who are 100% genuine and happy with what they are doing and where they are going. Haters try to make you question if you are good enough with what you do or have. They never give you anything but a serious doubt in your abilities.
Usually, whatever seems like a reflection on you and who you are and how you are – isn’t.
I know I am the only person who knows myself better than anyone. If I trust my gut instincts, I know how to reign myself in, reflect on my own judgements and check out what is going on with me.
Not everyone is comfortable with the fact I don’t hide certain ‘”skeletons” of my life in an overflowing wardrobe, that I supposedly should be ashamed to share.
My thinking is – I share them because I fucking got over them.
If you don’t like that I am not all caught up in an eternal self- mind fuckery, that is your problem, not mine.
I and you. We all have a life to live.
There is a great life out there to see and experience. We need to take time to chill and do our own thing. Even if it seems like we are doing nothing. We are usually doing a lot.
I am convinced that all the things I have lined up for this next week -will be tackled with 100% passion and commitment.
I’m feeling fresh, energised (amazing what a few haribos can do)
That’s it from me.
( photo credit)
Francesca Woodman – White Socks, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976.
( … from the book Francesca Woodman, edited by Corey Keller, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, 2011.)
Never give up!
Nina sang it well: it’s a new dawn, a new day….
When you look at yourself straight on in the mirror – chant his name three times.
The Grim Reaper is more likely to pay a visit and say ‘wassup?
Thinking about all those folk who want to live. Don’t have a cat’s chance or a lucky clover to pray over.
Last night, life became mission impossible. If you read it – I’m free flowing this to say, don’t give up.
Don’t give in.
When it feels like you are at the end of Hangman’s noose, about to kick the bucket from under your feet;
that is the moment where we have the opportunity to reveal our true soul’s pathos.
Don’t you think the cloaked hooded figure has a lot of soul collecting to get on with?
I’m not saying that what we feel at the time we feel it is an illusion.
What I pointing out is that change is the only constant – and that can lead to desperate ,devastating confusion.
Inside me – I’m still trembling, worrying , wondering. What am I going to do? Can I do this?
Questions and questions and questions blowing out fog enough to make any mind spin.
Stop. Hammer time.
No , that is not what I meant to write. 😀
Warped sense of humour.
Effective enough to keep all the rattling bones and bolts inside me, cast a glow over my demeanour.
Look around you. Every time you see a flower bloom -despite its brethren humming out sad tunes.
That is Life continuing in spite of all the strife.
One seed of Hope. Get through this second,hour, evening.
Take the seed, germinate it, nurture it, feed it, love it , talk to it.
Take the time – make it thine.
watch it grow into a mighty oak – proud and on display.
it seems impossible to define.
Plant it. Don’t throw it away.
Keep a hold of it. It may just be the one thing that carries you over the struggle D-day line.
On the surface – flowers. trees, icebergs – all look fantastical – magical even.
Look below the surface. There is a formula – you can build on that too – no magic. no miracles.
Approach thyself with an examining eye.
Make it your number one priority to get to know what makes you tick.
If you stop ticking- make it your priority to know where to go to get a battery replacement or get your heart resuscitated.
Know what makes you well, try things that seem alien, reach out of that comfort zone.
Scream ,yell, type, don’t bottle it up – we have the technology – make a call -pick the phone up.
We have a voice – use it. Listen!
sweet melodic freedom – I am the only one with the key to unlock and escape from my own prison.
Never give up.
No matter how difficult and complicated it gets – remember that there is more to this space than a one-dimensional prism.
I know it’s scary – to feel caught up in a schism.
Pieces of the mind caving in -thoughts toppling over, it’s like being a Chilean miner being held hostage underground.
Two months of no light . A sorrowful plight.
It’s dark but you are still breathing. You may be the only one but time is not about to start giving in.
Chin up. Keep looking for a strategy.
An exit route. Use that sombre time to recollect . Hell, get all dramaturgy.
We come into this world kicking, screaming, wondering, possibly even believing. We mustn’t give up unless time says ‘okay enough’.
So, I say go the way you came in . If it is not our time – then fight with every muscle. All the nerve you can summon up.
Truth or dare?
I have truth spilling out of my aura like pennies falling into the slot machine, the one in working order.
Dare to have. slip on your shades if you have to – things might just get a little brighter.
You may levitate – feel lithe and even a little lighter.
Don’t be afraid to succeed and be happy
You don’t need to go to the dentist to get your two front teeth divided so you can look like Mrs Go Lucky Gappy.
*Inspired by my WRAP plan and my recent WRAP facilitator training*
I’m a massive admirer of french artist, GUTS. I discovered his music a few years back with the epic ‘ les bienheureux’ album produced by wax labels, 2007, who’ve released albums such as ‘Nightmares on wax presents ‘Nightmares on wax’
Bob powers ( Tribe called quest, Roots) took him under his wing and schooled him on how to keep his flavor full of flavor.
He’s a full trained four star chef!
His early music influences come from hip hop artists such as KRS ONE and Public enemy.
His music reflects his love of traveling and cultures and his fascination with cuisine.GUTS has exotic flavor Some one who travels extensively to places like Senegal- has to be conscious about global social issues.
I have huge respect for any artist who uses their talent and works to explore urgent issues that need addressing. His music is mostly mixed samples, electronic , hip hop beats with plenty of instrumental tracks.
Instrumental tracks tend to heighten our emotions in a way that classical music does. It forces our brains to interpret and understand the wider themes at play when listening to a song.
His love affair with hip hop began in the 80’s ,with GUTS sat in a Bronx apartment sampling thousands of tracks on his Akai MPC midi drum machine and mini sampler.
One of my favorite songs on the ‘Les bienheureux’ album is ‘the living is easy’ recorded using an Akai MPC 4000 midi /sampler. It’s simply superb. If you enjoy your animation visuals then give this one a watch.
My Second favorite song is ‘Want it back ‘ featuring Patrice, taken off the album HIP HOP AFTER ALL’ – The video is worth the watch too. It speaks of the bigger issues plaguing our children’s future. The kids chorus disarms with a blunt message:
STOP SCREWING UP OUR HOME!
Another one of my favorite tracks is ‘Living like pigs’ taken off the 2009 album ‘Freedom’
Damn this is a fine beat. He samples one simple loop – taken from the 1970’s track ‘The garden of Jane Delawney” by Francoise Hardy
The speech at the intro ( Mr Freedom, 1961,film) always gives me the chills. It’s like a wake up call to arouse our humanity.
To begin with, I’m gonna tell you the land of Freedom
is all about,
.No, you’re not dreaming….that land exists, Ladies and Gentlemen, you have been living like pigs… Open your eyes……
MR FREEDOM, 1961
The words are hard hitting and blends in with the soma-like effect melody threaded through out the song.
The entire song has a hypnotizing effect which I’d interpret as how people in our society easily grow bloated by over consumerism.
To me ,It speaks of the loss of humanity. Its such a simplistic beat yet; it sets off a complex array of emotions.
Here is the original song that GUTS sampled.