This up and coming Saturday, April 29, we will take you on a trip to the stars. Two very inspiring musicians will jump in their spaceship to showcase their talent at Gretchen. Both are based in Los Angeles and have made a name for themselves during the last few years with their unorthodox productions. You would like to know who are these two astronauts that we are talking about? Ringgo Ancheta and Ezra Rubin of course! Oh, you still do not have a clue? Well, let us get more into detail then.
Ringgo Ancheta, better known by his stage name Mndsgn, pronounced “mind design”, was born in San Diego to former members of the Philippine arm of the Aum Supreme Truth Cult, a doomsday cult that was originally founded in Japan in 1984 and gained international notoriety when it carried out the deadly Tokyo subway sarin terror attack in 1995. His parents were granted political asylum in the U.S.A., otherwise his life probably would have taken a different route. Spending his childhood on the edge of a commune with no electricity and mostly no technology, he did not had access to any kind of modern music until he sneaked out and hitchhiked to Philadelphia where he got in contact with the sound of hip-hop for the very first time and immediately fell in love with the art form. A Philly resident, who explained the art of sampling and beat making to him, inspired him so much that he acquired some equipment within the same day and started to work on his own productions. From then on he went more and more often to “The City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection” (author’s note: common American nickname for the city of Philadelphia.) which finally led to a move to Los Angeles to be a full time musician.
During the first years of his career he issued a few EP’s here and there on labels like Klipmode and Fresh Selects, but his real breakthrough came with his signing to Peanut Butter Wolf’s notorious record label The Stones Throw, in 2014, where he soon after released his spaced out debut album entitled “Yawn Zen”. Each composition on his first masterpiece seems to be created in a state of bliss, free from worldly cares, giving the listener that smooth hazy dreamlike feel. Somehow it sounds a bit like an homage to the meticulous beatwork of J Dilla and Madlib. From washed out lounge funk and looped pitch bent vocal snatches to hollow drums and lo-fi stoner folk, Mndsgn’s productions on “Yawn Zen” are minimalistic but complex at the same time and an excellent fit for Stones Throw. His latest album “Body Wash” was released in 2016, again on Stones Throw, and is inspired by the post-disco R&B era of the 80’s as well as classic boogie funk. On this album he has not only made the beats but also is singing on his productions. His voice seems to be a mirror of his true self, restrained and almost introverted. Mndsgn tends to lean towards themes of self-actualization and human connection in his lyrics. This man is truly a space cowboy with a positive message coming to reach you with it!
Ezra Rubin, a.k.a. Kingdom, has agreed to be Mndsgn’s co-pilot on this flight. However the man behind the indie record label Fade To Mind is not completely alien to the music universe. His journey started at “the Big Apple”, New York, where he first gained recognition with a series of mixtapes and club nights. Far from traditional genre limitations he developed his very own style by combining the sound of underground club music with the current hits of rap and R&B to create a new potent strain of dance music. Besides that he worked for burgeoning fashion label Hood By Air whom asked him to create several soundtracks for their promotional use. He also released a bunch of critically acclaimed EP’s on labels Fool’s Gold and Night Slugs. At this point it was time for a change in Kingdom’s life. Maybe there was nothing more to achieve career wise in good old New York, or maybe it was just the weather that led to the decision to move to the always sunny Los Angeles where he joined close allies Total Freedom, Nguzunguzu and Prince Will. Inspired by the city’s melting pot of talents he then founded Fade To Mind as both a label and studio to create a platform for the steady growing group of experimental musicians and songwriters.
Things changed drastically when Kelela’s debut “Cut 4 Me” was released in 2013, which was entirely produced by him. The album and Kelela’s hit single “Bank Head”, which he was also laying the beat for, garnered heavy attention. From here it was only a matter of time before he finally dropped his highly acclaimed first LP “Tears In The Club” in February 2017. The album features collaborations with SZA, Syd tha Kid and Shacar and is an earnest and subdued attempt at making his soulful post-club productions agreeable to a general audience. As proven with working with Kelela he is obviously qualified to producing for powerhouse vocalists, but with “Tears In The Club” he dips his toe into the world of major label team ups, which definitely had an impact on his own sound. He slowed down the pace of his productions a little, downbeats that arrive a split later than you expect them to, a unorthodox choice of samples and synth patches that have an 80’s retro vibe but sound cleanly modern. Kingdom’s productions are claimed as some of the most influential electronic music of the last decade. He has been touring extensively across North and South America, Asia and Europe and was heavily featured in print and social media. Where will these two astronauts take us? It is going to be an adventurous journey, that is for sure!
Let me end this with: Space, the final frontier, these are the voyages of the starship Gretchen. Its Saturday night mission to explore strange new sound worlds, to seek out new music and new ways of dancing, to boldly go where no clubber has gone before.