Layne and Cory from 40 Thieves fill us in.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Thanks for the mix. What did you initially record it for?
LF: We recently did a remix for FineArt Recordings from London and they asked us for a mix to help promote. The label just scored themselves a show on Samurai FM, and we hear ours may kick it off which was a nice bonus.
You guys are working on an album. When's it due out, what should we expect and any clues on who will be releasing it? Will there be a tour to promote the album?
CB: Yes, we are busily at work on a 40 Thieves album, so busily that we have no idea when it'll be released. Hopefully before the end of the world, which we've slated for late fall. So yeah, late Summer would be ideal. We've had multimillion dollar offers from all the majors, but since we're both heirs to indescribable fortunes, we'll probably press up triple gatefold, goldleaf wrapped, 340 gram vinyl, a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 7 personal copies. Kidding aside we want to finish the record before we think about even pressing that many.
LF: The goal is to deliver the unexpected, artfully shoved up against the expected. As for a tour I guess it's a little easier to plan something like that around a full-length, but we've never done anything like that before so we'll have to wait and see. It would be great though to tour with the players we're using on the album and put on some sort of 40 Thieves live show together. On the other hand it's tough enough for promoters to fly 1 or 3 of us out to DJ these days so if we do it better be pretty smokin'!
As well as making music at part of 40 Thieves you also run Smash Hit Music Co. When was the label formed and who else is involved?
CB: We launched SHMCo. in late 2004 .
LF: With 40 Thieves we keep as many people involved as possible because it seems to serve the music well. The label is Corey and myself, as well as a silent partner named Ricki who floats back and forth between the West and East coast. Now that you mention it we could really use an intern or someone else to help out!
You've got the Gary Davis 'Chocolate Star' EP II coming out soon on the label. How did you guys originally tee up with P&P to organise these Gary Davis releases? Tell us a bit about the release.
CB: Through friends we met Mr. Chinn who was in regular touch with Gary and things flowed from there. Gary is still in touch with P&P co-founder Peter Brown but we planned the releases with Gary, who wrote all the new material along with Mr. Chinn.
LF: The release itself is actually an interesting story. It's a little known fact that Richard 'Groove' Holmes was Gary's uncle, and shortly before he passed a few years ago Gary recorded him jamming out on his organ, no drums or anything. He probably got about 10 minutes worth, and enough to build a song around them. He laid down more tracks including vocals by his wife, Sonia, and the resulting song was called 'So Good'. That along with some other tracks Gary had recently written with Mr Chinn were the real impetus for EP II. From there Gary reached out to James Pants and knocked out another tune, "Sticky Situation", which James co-wrote and sang on. At the time Greg Wilson was in the mix from his remix of 'Professor Here', so Gary asked him to turn in a version of '1 Lifetime' for EPII.
Then, the drama hits. Shortly after we locked down the track list for the EP there was a call from Groove Holmes most recent wife, claiming rights to his estate and threatening Gary with a suit if he used RGH's name in connection with the project. Apparently this song may be the last thing he recorded before his death, and that's not what the estate wants the official story to be. We had to change the name of the song and not give credit where it was most certainly due, but in the end Gary owned those recordings and the entire family supported his decision to release them except for her. Hopefully it won't come back to haunt us, but this is really the only place we're mentioning it...
What other releases have you got in the pipeline for Smash Hit?
LF: Next up- a ditty by a band of youngsters outta Utah called Return to Sender and the song is called 'Dutch/Boyz/Dance Floors'. The band is really just a bunch of rockers but this one song on their last album really struck me as cool in a post-punk disco way, so we licensed it from the label for remixes. Of course this isn't news to you since Canyons are one of the remixers but we've also got one from Anthony Mansfield as well as an in-house number from Corey and myself aka Ruffy & Tuffy. Gotta say, your mix is right on the money, really great stuff!
After that we're going to help re-introduce the disco world to one Johnny Dynell, NYC circa 1983, who 's probably the coolest human I have ever met. We're doing a re-issue with remixes of 2 of his Atlantic hits from '83, 'Jam Hot' and 'The Big Throwdown'. Looks like Ilija Rudman, DJ Spun of Rong Music, Clouded Vision, Tensnake and Johnny himself will be on remix/edit duty there. A couple of other bits are in the works, but yeah, we're actually slacking a bit there. Demos are welcomed! hahaha
As someone running an independent label, what are you thoughts on digital vs vinyl releases etc? Will Smash Hit continue to press up records?
LF: I should say first I work a 9-5 at a digi distributor, so my views may be slanted. It's clear to most people though that digital music is the direction things are headed, and if you try to avoid interacting with that side of things you're probably missing out on more and more opportunity. As a label you're constantly struggling to balance what you want to do versus what's going to keep you in business, so every label has to pick a plan for themselves that works. We all love vinyl and wish it were feasible to press and sell 3000 copies of every release but it's just not the reality anymore. SHMCo. hasn't officially given up the waxy format, but we've released our last few as digital-only and licensed the tracks to Rong Music for the 12", which has worked out nicely for everyone. Chocolate Star EP 2 and the Johnny Dynell are both slated to be pressed up this year.
What's the scene like in San Francisco at the moment for the sort of music 40 Thieves are producing/DJ'ing?
CB: As Producers, we're getting a lot of love and encouragement in SF. The so-called New Disco sound (you jokers know what I'm talking about) was partly conceived and developed in San Francisco. Folks dig how widely we range, musically and stylistically.
We've had some great dj experiences here, the people who come out to hear us are real music-heads: they SERIOUSLY know what they like. It's really gratifying to have them boogie-ing at our gigs. They know the house, they know the disco obscuro and the freestyle and the boogie.
LF: Musically there's always so much going on in this city no matter what scene you're into. The scene here is still very much club/house-oriented so to get the freaky shit you gotta pay attention! SF is also one of those places with a long list of local heros who have been keeping things truly burning for years. Im talking about Gunclub, Green Gorilla, DJ Jeno, Pacific Sound/Sunset, Honey Soundsystem and lots of others. That's the true SF only people who live here or come here get a chance to know. We're also really lucky in the respect that promoters and clubs are constantly putting themselves out there to bring talent into the city. There's always a great party to go to on the weekend, and usually some type of after-party if you want to rave out.
And lastly, a few artists/labels/songs that have been doing it for you of late...
Well Canyons' mix of Dutch/Boyz/Dance Floors is really doing it for us right now and Hole In The Sky is just the business! Some other artists/labels that we think are putting out interesting music- Throne of Blood, Whatever We Want, Kranky, Permanent Vacation, Tirk, our bros at Rong, Maurice Fulton (relentless as-ever), Norwegians (in general), Optimo, Bumper, Toby Tobias, Mock N' Toof, really digging the latest In Flagranti stuff!