Interview by BGLEAFY (Updated 7/25/17)
From a conversation with KOOL A.D. and Amaze 88 at Guerilla Cafe in Berkeley, where both Kool A.D. and Cult Days were showcasing work.
BGLEAFY: What was your early musical background like?
KOOL AD: My pop’s side of things was like Cuban Salsa and Jazz, then he moved to the South Side of Chicago and was introduced to Electric Blues stuff like that. Later on he got into Jimi Hendrix and Rolling Stones and stuff. My mom was into The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Cream, Pink Floyd, but also reggae like Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear, all that.
AMAZE 88: Basically my dad was a big record collector, He had maybe 1500 LP’s, 700 45’s, and he introduced me to music. We grew up in Section 8 housing at a time where everyone listened to hip-hop. Too $hort was huge, and right across the water, so everyone vibed to his tapes cause they were passed around all the time. My older brother was a DJ which got to me dig deeper when I was in high school, and eventually I got more into jazz and never looked back. Started making beats, and got my own mpc when my brother wouldn’t let me use his. Some of those beats are on 51.
BGLEAFY: Yea that’s how I was introduced to your music.
KOOL AD: Yea me and [Amaze 88] met via skateboard fools, watching lil skate videos and Kool Keith listening sessions, just various shit. What’s good bruh bruh!
(Kid Trails approaches)
AMAZE 88: This is Kid Trails.
Kid Trails: Beautiful art show tonight. My name’s Kid Trails. We’re putting out a tape, it’s called Kid Trails Sick.
KOOL AD: Definitely play that on the radio that shit go super maney.
Kool A.D Paintings
(Kid Trails walks inside)
BGLEAFY: Did you ever feel a moment in which you could distinguish your work as separate from the sum of its influences?
KOOL A.D: Really nothing is divorced from its influences. Really all you’re doing is, you hear music, however it comes to your ears, you recognize whatever collection of patterns that you grow familiar with, and emulate.
BGLEAFY: Ya I suppose it’s unintentionally loaded question. Not to prioritize uniqueness, but more like, when did you feel confident with what you brought to the table?
AMAZE 88: I’ve got a wide range of influences but no matter how hard I would try to mimic them it would never come out the same. Even when you follow a formula you’re gonna end up putting your own spice on it. I felt confident to put things together after two years of working on the MPC, when I put out a CD called Flowers that showcased what I was doing.
BGLEAFY: Feel. Have you ever had a favorite article of clothing?
AMAZE 88: I’ve always wanted an athletic A’s jacket that was satin, and puffy, but it was black, not green. I’ve never seen a picture of it, but I know it exists cause I was in Foot Locker in 2002 and they had it.
KOOL A.D: With the White A’s logo?
AMAZE 88: Na green A’s logo. Starter, Satin, Black. The Holy Grail.
KOOL A.D: I have a varied and conflicted relationship with the yay area municipal sports teams being that I came up in San Francisco and later the East bay, but as a kid I had the silk SF jacket and the silk Niners jacket. Then once I moved I got the silk Raiders jacket but not the A’s one, which I should’ve got since that’s who I ended up seeing most, just cause the tickets were hella cheap and you could just go to every game like fuck it. But to pick a favorite article of clothing I mean…
BGLEAFY: It’s a tough thing to pick.
KOOL AD: At two points in my life I found boots that fit me perfectly. I had walked outside this house where I had just crashed on the couch and found these Doc Marten boots, held em up like “Ay these are my size!” and rocked those for like 3 years. Literally happened again too with the brown joints.
Amaze 88: The brown joints!
Kool AD: Those were clean. Some steel toed ones, I still rock those now and then. Also happened with a pair of vans I found in front of the horse racing spot, just on the beach. I always fuck with those kinds of finds, the literal finds.
Cult Days Print
BGLEAFY: Is there anything that helps to keep the craft gratifying for you, such that it eases the stresses of touring/producing so much music so quickly/whatever other pressures that emerge?
AMAZE 88: I love making music, it comes naturally to me. It’s never felt overbearing or tedious, and I think that because there’s no deadlines, it allows us to put out more. It should never feel contrived.
KOOL AD: I agree, I’d be doing it regardless. Seeing as I am doing it, therefore, such and such.
BGLEAFY: Feel it. Last one, if you could soundtrack any movie, what kind of movie and how would you go about it?
AMAZE 88: A movie that already exists?
BGLEAFY: You could describe it too.
AMAZE 88: I’m a big fan of Italian and Japanese cop movies and horror movies. Probably that or like a 80’s horror movie with heavy synths, that would be super tight.
KOOL AD: I would wanna do a grand piano score to Alejandro Jodorowsky movie. They all beast mane. I feel like he’d allow for some Avant Garde styles, I could probably handle that.
BGLEAFY: No doubt. Appreciate you taking the time to sit and talk with me.
Kool A.D. is currently writing/releasing one chapter of the book Aztec Yoga on Medium, which is accompanied by one song a day as part of a 100-song mixtape. Amaze 88 dropped the song “Bigot” as the first single from his new group Feels Duo with Charlie Moses. Cult Days continues to put out new music, clothing and artwork on her website included below.