Nearly everything Brassfoot touches is subject to outlandish innovation. Always alert to moving forward and avoiding stagnation, the London-based producer has been known to push the boat out – this approach applies to the murky, smoky output on labels like Don’t Be Afraid, Biorhythm and Apron and the audio-visual curation of his label and NTS show of the same name, NCA.
Taking the DIY route to challenge conventional concepts of how we make and consume art, NCA can be considered a subversive enterprise. Now fully realised through the recently released DVD, Global Paranoia neatly typifies Brassfoot’s ambitions for the label too, connecting the dots between its audio and visual dimensions. Coupling visuals focused around “themes of science, metaphysics, morality, drugs, mind control, paranoia, and surveillance” with music from Black Void Smith, J M S Khosah, JR Chaparro, Ko Saito and Brassfoot himself, the label has offered some insight into the project, walking us through the background of artists involved and the overall intention.
“Maybe Global Paranoia isn’t for you if it has to explained. It’s a feeling first. A feeling later translated into music and then into visuals to accompany that feeling. When we made a lot of the music, the visuals were not yet conceived. The sounds were complied from tracks and medleys that each respective artist had sent me over time. I have archives of work from everyone, and eventually it leaks out in the way of NCA releases or on my monthly NCA Show, on NTS. This time round it’s a DVD. I think it’s important for listeners to remember how to engage their own senses. Here on Earth in this (dis)information age, It often feels like people need to be spoon-fed an elaborately sexy concept before it’s deemed palatable. What happened to just trying something first? It’s important to understand it (GP) was simply a feeling way before it became a concept, and as a listener/viewer; to engage your senses so that you can create your own feeling.
Global Paranoia is set at the ‘in-between’. The flux between what you think you know; a permanence, and that which you are unfamiliar with; still unformed and immaterial. So GP has to be experienced to be fully interpreted. In this realm it’s a 90min DVD with visuals and a full OST, in another realm it serves its own classified purpose.”
Brassfoot & J M S Khosah
Musically GP01 is presented in a traditional NCA mash-up style. Similar to our tape releases, but with the visual context explored further in depth. JMSK and I both watch a lot of film, so it’s always been a major counterpart to our music since our early releases. We’re both Hip Hop heads to the root, and most of our favourite albums are storytelling pieces, whether linear, montage or across a series of albums. Skits played like movie scenes on a lot of 90s Hip Hop releases. Back then we all had the attention spans long enough to sit back and listen to a whole album in it’s entirety, so for me it was often more about the experience of the whole project than just a single-track at a time. When an artist dropped an album it was all you had of them until the next drop. It was their snapshot in time for you to marinate on until they decided to share another. So I would play albums over and over again from track 1 until I heard silence.
Listening to my favourite albums I would always find something else to do simultaneously, like draw, play video games or watch cartoons on mute. So being able to independently bridge our own visuals to our own music and skits into something that we could sit back and play, was out of habit and almost necessity. NCA is a gateway for me to explore my music and design. For JMSK it’s music, video editing and FX that have been a vital part of what he’s independently contributed towards all our NCA releases. Everything NCA is in-house.
Black Void Smith
Black Void Smith, aside from being a producer and vocalist has invested a lot of time building a very bespoke mastering chain at his studio. So he took the task of mastering the OST, beyond contributing to some of the DVDs most intense sonic moments. Black Void Smith or Void was part of 80s Graf crew Criminal Damage, who in the 90s recorded music under the same group name. I met Void around 1996 and he used to record at my Dad’s studio. Years later we caught up again and he had expanded his skill set into making his own music and more recently he’s delved into the field sound engineering.
Ko doesn’t talk much. But he speaks a lot through his beats. He and JR both live out in Tokyo alongside J M S Khosah. I’ve been playing a lot of his music for years now, you can hear his stuff all throughout my past NCA shows. He’s got a penchant for flipping a track halfway through and ending it in a totally different realm from where it started. That’s not only genius of him, but it’s generous too because the listener gets 2 for 1! He’s contributed a lot of music to this DVD and he’s definitely opened a few hidden chambers while doing so. Keep an eye out for him, he’s definitely one to watch – you’ll have to find him first though!
JR Chaparro and I were introduced through JMSK. When we finally met away from the internet realm, we realised that we shared a lot of mutals and music was definitely the common denominator to many of those connections. JR, Ko and JMSK have jammed together a lot more than I have been present for and out of that there’s been a wealth of recordings, NCA SUR was a product of that.
“So Global Paranoia was birthed from us just exploring and combining our individual interests into one package. We all live on opposite sides of the world, so even the way we work has to be region free or ‘Global’. Apparently the internet still permits that kind of activity, so we’ve maximised that. But it’s always remained important to us to have something to hold on to. A reference point. When you work remotely with people, it certifies the work done by actually having something tangible to mark it’s conception at the end. So each release is like a telepathic handshake between us, across sea and land.
Individually we all have a sound that lends itself well to imagery. We’ve also been quite fortunate to share a lot of similar ideas or observations. So Global Paranoia’s themes almost chose themselves.
You link up with your friends, light one up and fling on a DVD. Growing up, this was customary. It was a way of sharing a feeling, spreading information, music or just for random entertainment. If it wasn’t Road DVDs or movies, it was Mobb Deep or some other weird shit we picked up with a free magazine. Probably one of my most memorable holidays was in the early 2000s. We spent whole days pigging out BBQ’ing, playing music, lighting-up and watching some of the wildest DVDs we could find at the time.
In 2018 I still enjoy those moments, but now it’s with our own product, our own message and delivery. Global Paranoia is our collective commentary on something that the whole world is experiencing, whether we all see that or not.”
Global Paranoia is out now on NCA – buy it direct from the label.