Looking Glass EP
Looking Glass EP 5 solo joints, 1 feature, production all inhouse!
South by Southwest Tour, Austin center, Austin, Texas
Keep posted here for dates and details of the 5 shows myself and Ariano will be doing at SXSW
“Today’s chat is with Max, an MC from California who goes by the moniker, ‘Thoughtsarizen’. I met Max when I was out in California for a few months, and he was generous enough to invite me to make some music with him. It was my first real step into recording music, writing intensively and even performing. It ignited a passion for creating music which I still have today, and when Max left a comment on my last article I got in touch with him to pick his brains about his musical philosophy, and where it’s all going for this urban poet. It turns out he’s working with such esteemed artists as Killah Priest (of the Wu-Tang Clan), and Ldonthecut, and I must say it’s sounding great (listen here…). Anyway, let’s hear from the man himself… IP: It’s been 10 years since I was out in California with you guys, recording songs in AD Ross’ bedroom studio, which even then was remarkably well kitted out. I’ve noticed since then you’ve been involved in a lot of collaborations with different producers and MCs. What have you gained creatively and personally from all these collaborations? And are you still involved with some of the same crowd from back in the day? Max: It has been awhile hasn’t it? Dang, getting old! I have gained a lot of perspective on what makes a good song. Now I am not saying I write those songs, but I do have a better grasp on what it takes to make one. Previously I had just tried to be overly complex, leaving clues to meanings. I think while that is a good trait of song writing, you also have to relate to people in a more easy way. If my point never gets across, why did I write the song? As far as touring and the like, it has taught me to roll with the punches a lot more. I really try to get to know people more, ask questions about them and relate experiences as opposed to how I used to kinda keep my distance. In the studio, I have learned that many approaches lead to the same goal, all roads lead to Rome as they say. I do still record a lot of my side work at AD’s house, though most of my album recording goes down at Technicali Studios. Ldonthecut (a producer and turntablist I work with, who also is the DJ for Sublime), has a great setup with tons of gear, from KORGs, to Nueman mics, to mpcs and more. AD keeps it simple with his setup, but his ability behind the boards really shines and he is able to make a most professional sound. By the way I still listen to your axeltree demo! IP: Ha! There’s a new one on the way… You once told me that you had been into punk as a youth, and had moved to Hip-Hop because you felt it had some of the same energy, can you elaborate on that? Max: I believe that Hip Hop is a natural progression from Punk, disenfranchised youth, and downtrodden people making songs and relating in an artform that is based around rebellion. Hip Hop started out as party music and evolved into a political machine, and a poetic artform. Punk started as a means of rising up but a lot of the themes in the early punk rock days are similar to party songs, and it rose to being a very message driven music. Now, punk seems to be going to a more emotional side, but that is fine, as hiphop I feel is following the same trends. At the same time mainstream anything caters to the lowest common denominator in most cases, so both artforms can’t be as pure political or emotional as they want to be. Another aspect that is similar is what punks call the DIY attitude, from clothes, to tapes, to food. This also translates to Hip Hop, with what is known as the grind, going out, making mixtapes, printing shirts, piecing together a studio out of nothing, and doing it yourself. The energy of the two, wild youth, with an edge of intelligence and a ‘we don’t care’ attitude, or perhaps, we REALLY do care, is another aspect I feel they share. I romanticize I suppose, but in their purest form they are both soundtracks of the revolution, growing up, and in my ears, my life. IP: Strange as it may sound, since I’ve been playing folk music I’ve started to see some cross over with hip-hop; it’s all about people communicating issues that are true to them. Is there any space for other types of music in your CD collection? Max: Yes! Folk is actually very interesting music, it is something I do delve into a lot. I would love to do a song involving a folk artist. To me its all about the lyrics and feel of the song. A lot of folk music hits me hard, I know perhaps they are poppy, but Of Monsters and Men are a group I really like. And SOUND wise, mumford an sons has a nice twist to it. While I am sure those are surface level folk groups at best, I do quite enjoy the sound and would love to hear more, and even work on some myself. IP: How do you see the music scene in the US? Over here we get a lot of exposure to American poppy rubbish (as well as a fair amount of British poppy rubbish). How do you see yourself, and the scene you’re involved in, responding to that? Max: Its the same everywhere. Music is a business, corporations run it, so its watered down and what you can hear easily is usually not very good. I also do keep an ear out, because occasionally a big band will release a song that has a hidden message in there and I find that amusing. At the same time we are BLESSED to be able to access ANY music we want from almost anywhere. We can go on our phones, tablets, computers, hit up spotify, soundcloud, or what have you and listen to just about any type or music we want. We are essentially given the keys to the biggest record store in the universe and told we can dig to our hearts content. While major labels are always going to do what they do, we have so many indie alternatives I am quite satisfied with what we DO get to listen to. The scene follows trends, I do me. As Nas said no idea is original, every song has been written. I don’t make music to sound a certain way, but at the same time I don’t limit myself to being stuck in a certain musical timeframe. I feel a lot of emcees out there are stuck in the “golden era” sound. If you are from that era, by all means do that. But lets not emulate, lets create! As far as the root of your question. I can’t say I respond to that, I simply take what I like that’s popular, and leave the rest and fill in the gaps with anything I can get my hands on that I do enjoy. Not enough time in life to obsess or berate crappy music, take what you need from it, and move on. IP: I know you’ve had a break from music for a while due to personal reasons. Are you coming back to the scene with the same outlook? What do you think the future holds for Thoughtsarizen? Max: Well currently I am working on a new project with Ldonthecut called Duct Tape, it features some great artists such as Madchild of Swollen Members, Killah Priest, Bubba Sparxxx, Castor Pollux, Jen Raye, Ariano, and Awaxxx. I also just finished up my 2nd EP with Ariano, that will be coming out next year on an Indie label, more details soon, but the songs we finished up include Aceyalone, Philiano, Trek Life and more. Both albums have different themes, Duct Tape is a very diverse album with sounds you probably didn’t think would come from a hip-hop artists, its still a lot of rapping and cuts, but the production we targeted to take you on a journey. The album with Ariano is more of a love album, with some serious themes thrown in. Its more indie feeling I think. I also am working on 2 side projects #BAM, which is a 3 emcee collective, and The UnKool List, which is a singer-songwriter and rapper combo with some great female lead vocals from the one and only Jen Raye, and technical rhymes from Castor Pollux, while I try to walk the line between the two. There are live instruments planned for that one as well. As for the outlook, it just made me realize how quick things can change, so why not at least do what you can to chase your dreams. I think I caught mine by the tail, so now its time to climb on to its back, and eventually put the reins in. I wont ever stop doing what I do, while I do make some money off this, its not about that, its about being able to tell my story to the world, and if they listen or not, at least I spoke. IP: Max, thank you very much.” - Alex Markham
“A understated intellect with fierce microphone presence, Thoughtsarizen rips lyrics and shows with savage vigor. Hailing from Orange County, CA, Thoughts is not necessarily a battle rapper, but more of an open minded, intelligent, artist and writer who tries to test his limits in the genre know as Hip-Hop. We spoke to the mastermind behind Thoughtsarizen and got to know the start of his career, what drives him, and what big plans 2014 has in store. Entertwine: How did Thoughtsarizen come to fruition, and what exactly is the meaning behind the name, Thoughtsarizen? Thoughtsarizen: They were the first two words I wrote down when I started writing hip-hop 13 years ago. It basically means to have thoughts that rise above the everyday mundane thoughts. A great quote I read once was normal people talk about people, and good people talk about experience, great people talk about theories and ideas, and since then I have used that as my mantra. ET: Before creating tracks, did you have any prior musical experience or talents? TA: Prior to doing hip-hop I had been in a punk band for you years from 1996-1998, before that I play percussion in the school band and wrote poetry and short stories. Doing the punk thing prior to hip-hop felt as a natural progression, as both styles of music are very similar in origin and meaning. So going from strength to strength if you will with my song writing was almost an expected turn of events. ET: Out of all genres, what attracted you to this type of genre of hip hop/electronic? TA: As stated above, to me hip-hop is a natural progression from punk rock. You have urban, political, and emotional roots, that also like to have fun. Listening to Pete Rock right after I finished up listening to the disrupt, oi polloi, or dead kennedys albums almost felt, aside from sonically, like they could be related. I may get some flack for this but another reason was I could rhyme on the bus, I could freestyle walking home from school, I didn’t need to carry around a guitar or drums or bass, it was also an ease of use thing. ET: If you could describe your music in three words, what would they be? TA: Alternative Intellegent Entertaining ET: Who or what influenced you to start making music? Does that same influence still stand today, or has it changed? TA: I just always wanted to make music, I don’t think there was a particular record, or artist that I heard and was like oh my, I need to do this. The closest to solidifying my choice of genres was maybe rage against the machine or rakim, both allowing me to see that you could write smart lyrics, and also showing me that you could mix politics, different sounds and other nongenre specific items into your sound. Another great influence to me was Trent Reznor, since I saw him use an MPC to make industrial, I knew that anything is possible, from DJ premier to j.dilla, to madlib all of them helped me see that sound is so versatile. I would say nothing changed as far as influence, except I constantly look at new and old musicians to draw from, like BB king, or miles davis, to slaughterhouse or atmosphere. ET: How was the area of Orange County helped support your career as an emcee? TA: Honestly, I am not hating on Orange County, but it a fragmented scene. We have some really talented people, and some great artists, and I have meet some great people like LDonthecut, Castor Pollux, Pawz1, Ariano, C4mula, etc, but I think the scene is to busy trying to be cool, instead of propping up our local musicians. I say this as someone who would identify themselves as an OC rapper since 2000, and dropped albums on orange county labels as early as 2001. I think there are different types of music like punk, ska, reggae, where the scene is really strong and they support. As far as hip-hop goes, I feel if we tried to be more like the rock scene, and less like the rap scene it would go a long way to getting the talent out there. ET: Your most recent EP, “Root to Seed,” features a lot of other artists. Tell us about these different collaborations and how it shaped the EP’s style. TA: Ld and I sat down and kinda looked at the people we knew and that would fit, most of the features are on one song, and its a very unifying track, the track “Going Up” has a very united vibe. I mean Akil is Muslim, I am Jewish, LD is Christian, Ariano is Catholic/spiritual, and Braille is Christian, its like we took all the religion and just formed a united truth, you can always go up. As far as the style, we took a lot of samples from music we grew up on, Root to Seed is a crass sample, Elevate is PRIDEFC anthem sample, etc. We just wanted an album that sonically sounded golden era, but progressive, and at the same time had elements from our childhood. ET: Out of all the tracks on “Root to Seed,” which was your favorite to produce and record? Which is your favorite to perform live? TA: My favorite to write to was vintage because it was that fast paced delivery I don’t get to use to often. However my favorite that we produced and the one that in the right moment gets people dancing is Root To Seed, the skapunk sample and the swing and cuts make it really grooving and great fun. ET: What are some of your favorite local hotspots to perform or DJ at and why? Any in particular that you can’t get enough of? TA: Hmmm, House of Blues is always a great time, so is the grove and the observatory. I love the Observatory because they brought us pizza every time we played, it means a lot of be taken care of that much. Free drinks are cool, but I think when you get a little catering, it really makes you feel appreciated. The sound at the House of Blues is something else, and I really like it, I have played over 100 venues and those 3 still stick out to being great places to play, for artists and for the crowd. ET: What are your future plans for your music career, what goals do you seek to achieve in the new year? TA: I was sick most of 2013, but this year I have 3 more records on the way, and plenty of shows to rock. Goals are to get to a few of the tour spots I had to turn down last year, and to volunteer my time with workshops and mentoring for young artists.” - Jacqueline Cassel