(AllHipHop Features) It’s pretty clear from my recent conversation with Adrian Younge that he was in an extremely experimental head space while creating his latest album The Electronique Void: Black Noise.
Younge’s 10-track instrumental LP is his first excursion into the Electronic music field. But don’t think it’s compatible to the rave-ready EDM of Skrillex, David Guetta, or Calvin Harris. The Electronique Void is an updated version of tunes forged by analog synthesizers, tape machines, and microphones from 1968 – 1973.
“When you listen to it, the spectrum feels bigger. There should be something that sounds a little different about this Electronic album versus hearing a modern Electronic album,” proclaims Younge.
The Los Angeles-based producer/composer also uses the project to continue his tradition of studying the science of love. The female lead of The Electronique Void is navigating through a damaging relationship as the narrator (guitarist Jack Waterson) attempts to warn her about the “Black Noise.”
Once again I had the opportunity to speak with Adrian Younge. We talked about his new musical opus. The discussion also covered Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s contribution to the Marvel’s Luke Cage series set to stream on Netflix as well as the Hip Hop duo’s forthcoming collaborative body of work.
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A lot of your projects have a love theme, but this one seemed to be a bit darker than your previous projects.
Yeah, for sure. It’s a dark love story. Usually, the love stories I do are dealing with dark romance, and it ends in a very beautiful and/or melancholy type of way. But this one just ends on some “it’s over” type sh-t. I wanted to do that, because I’ve never done that before. You’re absolutely right.
What inspired you to take that direction with this story?
As far as taking that direction, literally, I just hadn’t gone that way. Everything I do is a concept of a synthesis of beauty and darkness. I love how in an album you can travel through different rooms of life.
Like I said, I usually like to end the story with something feeling good. It’s just a natural writing concept. You want to feel good when you’re done. But with this one I said, “You know what? Let me just go a different way.”
The sound of the album is different as well. You embraced an Electronic sound. Why did you decide to tackle that particular genre?
I’ve wanted to do an Electronic album. It dawned on me that when somebody brings up the idea of an Electronic album, people automatically lean towards EDM. There was a time nobody even thought about the notion of EDM when you heard about Electronic music.
So I wanted to harken back to the time of pioneers like Kraftwerk, Dick Hyman, and all these people of the late 60’s/early 70’s that were making Electronic experimental music “for the future.” It was very experimental, and I wanted to make music like that.
Also, you never really see black people making that kind of music, so I wanted to tackle all of that. I wanted to make that statement. That’s why I kept this album as an Electronic album.
Why didn’t you have any vocalists this time?
When you’re creating concepts, it’s always best to provide limitations. It’s the limitations that force you to do things you otherwise wouldn’t do. It’s easy for me to have a vocalist come in and sing. It takes away from what I have to do, because the vocalists act as the lead vocal.
Here, I just wanted to use the vocoder. I wanted it to be myself. I use the vocoder and then Jack Waterson is doing the dialogue on top explaining this concept of love. I wanted to go that route because I never went there before and I’ve liked music that did that. I just wanted to go way out on this one.
Can you explain the difference between using a vocoder and Auto-Tune?
A vocoder is analog synthesizers that match your frequency with the frequency of a keyboard, and it makes a new computerized sound. Auto-Tune changes the pitch of your vocal with a computer, but it does it in a more digital, modern way.
That’s probably the best way I can explain it. When you hear the two, you can hear the differences. A vocoder does not sound like anything you would hear in today’s popular music. Auto-Tune is what you would hear.
From like Chris Brown to T-Pain, when you hear that electronic element to their voice, that’s Auto-Tune. A vocoder is something you hear more so in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
The last time we spoke you said the LPs you create are almost like a movie’s soundtrack. As I was listening to the album, for some reason, I kept thinking about Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. Did you have a particular film or genre in your mind as you were creating the project?
When I was putting the concept together, I was thinking about that film, because Metropolis is one of the first films that explored the concept of futurism. Futurism always includes Electronic components.
I was definitely thinking about that world. But what it really is – it’s a concept of seeing the future. But seeing the future through Electronic music. That’s definitely part of what this album is supposed to be.
I wanted to ask about your work with Ali Shaheed Muhammad on the upcoming Luke Cage. I was reading that the show has a “90’s Hip Hop vibe” to it. What can viewers expect from the soundscape from that series?
Luke Cage is a Hip Hop head. But, as you know, being part of Hip Hop culture doesn’t mean you just listen to Hip Hop music. You also listen and understand the source material that created Hip Hop like the breaks, Jazz, and Funk – all the stuff that helped spawn the notion of Hip Hop.
So the music that we make encapsulates all of that – Hip Hop, the source material, and a combination of these genres – in order to make something new for Luke Cage. It’s basically all of that.
And you guys were directly involved in the scoring of the show?
Absolutely. We had a 30-piece orchestra conducted by Miguel Atwood-Ferguson. It’s basically if you can imagine the filthiest beat with a full orchestra on top of it. Look at it like that. That’s the kind of stuff we’re allowed to do.
Another thing I found interesting with the Luke Cage/Hip Hop connection is that the episodes are named after Gang Starr songs. I know you’ve worked with DJ Premier. Did you two ever have a conversation about that connection?
No, I never talked to Primo about that at all. That was something that Cheo Hodari Coker, the show’s creator, thought of before I was even part of this. But when you see how it all works together, it’s super dope. Primo is my dude. I love that dude. I’m just glad to see them getting love like that in the Marvel world.
You and Ali are working on The Midnight Hour [album]. What’s the status of that?
That’s something that we had to put on hold for Luke Cage. Now that Luke Cage is done, we’re finishing up that right now. We’re looking to have that out at the top of the year.
Will the full version of Cee Lo’s “untitled 06” [by Kendrick Lamar] be on there?
Since you’re music always seem to have a connection with film, and trilogies are a really popular part of the movie world, is there any interest in doing a third Something About April?
I thought about it. We’ll just see what happens. I want to continue to create these new brands like how I created the Twelve Reasons To Die with Ghostface [Killah], Something About April, and now The Electronique Void. None of those I’ve done a third on. I’ve only gone up to two. So we’ll see. If the public wants it, I might consider it.
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Purchase the digital version of Adrian Younge’s The Electronique Void on iTunes. CD and vinyl versions will be available October 7.
Marvel’s Luke Cage premieres September 30 on Netflix.