When the history books are written about this era of musicians, while there will be many artists recognized for their various awards and accolades, perhaps none will prove as impressive as the prolific Dolphin. With over 50 albums recorded, and more in the works, the biggest testament to his talent is the level of artistry one finds within each song. He makes no fillers, rather each song takes you deep into depths of the artistic sea in which he swims. Free from the confines of industry, Dolphin creates like few have ever done. When the history books are written he’ll be there, and he’ll be writing a song.
In Part II of this interview learn more about his relationship with art, the projects in store for 2009 and the artistic peers he’s got his eye on.
If you had to choose one album to give a listener as an introduction to your music which would you choose?
I would probably choose my “The Opium Sky” album. I recorded it in 05 and it’s only about 45minutes in length. It took me less than two weeks to create and it may be one of the more accessible albums.
Normally I couldn’t answer that question but lately a friend of mine, an visual artist who’s work I respect greatly, has been staying on me about releasing it.
In your career as a musician you’ve seen the industry completely reshape itself to the point where it is now. Have your ambitions as an artist changed with that?
Yes and no. It has always been my ambition to work outside of the confines of the ‘music industry’. I never liked the sound of it as it always sounded too factory line, too industrial. We are not making canned soda or cars. There were always a few artists who challenge the system but the penalty for doing such just never panned out. It never made sense to me that we create the work only to have it governed and dictated by non-artists. That being said, my ambitions have changed slightly cause earlier in my career I always hoped that musicians, everyday musicians and bigger name musicians would bypass the normal routes and take it to the people. Now I am a full believer as that is a reality and there is simply no going back.
What are the projects you’ve got lined up for 2009?
09 has so much promise. So far I have 2 new Dolphin albums I just completed that will be released in hardcopy and digital versions. I’m working on another Dolphin album as we speak as well. The October Octopussy album will be mixed and mastered this year by the great Primus Luta. That will also be released in hardcopy and digital formats. I’m taking The Airmath over to a soundstage (The Orion) to properly record a two hour show that will be filmed and recorded and released as a live performance DVD/CD. We are trying to debut it in theaters in Baltimore for a special screening. There are three Ocean Aquanaut albums that are currently in production. One of which, Dr. Who – “Rise of the Timelords” is up for free at Wardolphin.
Beyond that I am recording with the AntiPop Consortium on their long awaited reunion album and have already started recording with them. They also have an Ocean Aquanaut song featured on their new mixtape scheduled for release in a few weeks. I am currently working with Koala on some new songs they have just written and I am also featured on their latest album “Central” released in late 08 under Ocean Aquanaut on a song entitled “Plague of the Mind”. High Priest of the APC and I have been throwing around ideas of a possible project so were trying our best to see that come to light as well. Then there is The EyeTeam featuring me and Tezmore, it’s a joint partnership project where I allow Tez to do most of the production and I add on along with me providing all the vocals and lyrics. It’s fun for me cause that’s something I almost never get a chance to do and Tezmore is a great friend who’s extremely talented. There is also a single produced by Earl Blaize from the AntiPop Consortium that I just recorded that will be avialable at Wardolphin in the next month as well.
There are a lot of artists that I worked with last year that I have follow up recordings with. The Rick Lucy album “Destroying Beauty” recorded last year comes out in 09 and there is a Dolphin appearance on lead guitar and vocals on the song “The Pulse” (you can find the free EP version on Amie Street). LaSonya Gunter’s sophomore album has a Dolphin appearance on there as well that features two versions of the song “Sweet Surrender” that features LaSonya, guitar work/solo by Dolphin. I also plan on doing a re-edit series of all 45’s called “Treats for the Working Man”. Volume one has been done, I’m currently working on Volume Two and Three. I’m also rerecording a Prince album note for note in honor of it’s anniversary.
All Dolphin, OA, OO materials can be found on Wardolphin.com or the usual sources Amazon, ITunes, etc btw.
I scored a film short called “The Rothstein Diamond” starring Roger Guenveur Smith (American Gangster, Do the Right Thing, Huey P Newton one man play on Broadway) and Byatta (VH1’s Ms. Rap Supreme) that is scheduled to go into full production this year.
I have just started the Wardolphin podcast series which will be up and running starting in February. A new podcast will be featured every month and will be free to those following the Wardolpin blogs.
I’m working with a few djs to throw “Dolphin” parties which will feature all Dolphin/Wardolphin.com music from the time you walk in the door until the time you leave.
Finally, the great Primus Luta and I have a huge surprise for folks that has already been recorded and mixed. That record is exciting for me as I have just the greatest respect for his insight and his work ethic. That should see light in 09 as well.
What are some projects from other artists you’re looking forward to in 2009?
Primus Luta. Every so often an artist comes along who’s work ethic I greatly admire and who’s sound I love as well. That to me is a very rare find cause often when artists are prolific, have range, and challenge themselves, the end result can be a disaster. Not the case with this dude. I almost never meet anyone who works as hard as I do and in his case his work ethic makes me realize I am sane. Haha. I have just been dying to hear the new sounds this cat has been up to and I’m fortunate to be apart of this process. It’s exciting.
All things Radiohead, by far my favorite band of the moment. “In Rainbows” is my Book of Life.
Stereolab, to me is one of, if not thee greatest band of the last 20 years has a new album in the works. They are sorely misunderstood and underrated.
Jake Leckie, a friend of mine, the original Airmath member and one of the most revered musicians I know. He always challenges me both musically and in turn spiritually. I’m always on the edge of my seat for anything he’s apart of. He’s a well trained musician who’s attended some of the best schools in music, Peabody, Hopkins, Baniff, and yet has the soul and spirit of a cat who plays by ear. Just amazing to hear this cat.
Lafayette Gilchrist and the new Volcanoes. Arguably the toast of France, but Baltimore based. I often kid that he’s the new SunRa… but then he’ll play and everyone will stop laughing. Trust me on this, Sunny is smiling down.
Ben Frock and the Sub-atomic Particles. One of the greatest jazz ensembles I have heard in recent years (along with Lafayette). We became friends through our musical circles intersecting and I became a huge fan of their work after Jake introduced me to them through a documentary he did on them while recording at the Peabody.
Soul Cannon. A local hip-hop live band out of Baltimore that includes some members of the Ben Frock group, in terms of live hip-hop this band houses some of the best musicians in Baltimore. Their live show is superb.
Finally another band called Quartet Offensive. Their drummer is also the drummer for Soul Cannon and for my band the Airmath, Nathan Ellhman Bell. I know when I hear a legendary musician and I convinced, with all certainty he is greatness. His playing sounds like three drummers at once and he is the only drummer that I have ever heard that can make a drum sound like it’s playing backwards. My keys player took me to one of their shows and I couldn’t believe the level of orchestration they had. All their music was written out and charted, they play with a bassist and lead guitarist but accompanied by a full horn section. Nate came by and played for me their new album… we sat on the floor in the dark and listened to pieces that run over 10mins on average. That album is mind-blowing.
In the year 2010 who would you like to be able to say you’ve had the pleasure to work with that you haven’t yet?
Probably just the musicians I have mentioned as I have so much respect for them. Also HR of Bad Brains as we were just recently introduced and have tentative plans to hang out. Should be quite the experience I understand. The only other musicians that stick out would be David Byrne (Talking Heads), we have intersecting lines through a mutual friend and that would be amazing. I’m not sure at all if that’s even a remote possibility but if I could, I definitely would.
McCoy Tyner (former pianist for Coltrane). My level of respect for him knows no boundaries and I often feel like he’s directly speaking to me.
Beyond that, I try to stay away from the greats I have grown up loving as I kinda subscribe to the belief system of never meeting your idols cause it will just destroy everything. That goes equally the same in the musical realm.
Why do you think this is the most important time for music?
I wouldn’t say just now, I think everyday is the most important time in music cause it always presents the opportunity to create something new that could change the world forever. We are alive and thus we always have that responsibility. I know many people believe that cause of the wars going on, the economy and after the last 8 years that now is the most significant time. I maintain that man has never in the history of the world learned it’s lesson so the need to push, the need to create, the need to challenge the status quo will always exist. Also to me, music is the true voice of God so therefore we will always need to hear it.
Any last words about the future of music and the artist?
Only that if you are an artist, of any kind, it is your responsibility to create in hopes that your work will spark the mind of those who will inherit the future.
Our generation is reckless and restless. Combine that with no sense of humility and it’s dangerous. It is solely up to us to help shape their minds, inspire their minds, and fill the gaps that have been left open by poor educational funding, lack of art related classes in public schools, and just general disenfranchisement. This responsibility is ours now more than ever because of the accessibility of technology but also because of the disconnect between generations. If we do not play our cards right, all can be and will be lost. Peace and a most grateful and humble thank you to Avanturb.