Interview: Keeping It Earnest with… Brandy Flower

Interview: Keeping It Earnest with… Brandy Flower
Hit+Run CREW runs deep.

Ahead of tonight’s double celebration record release party for Darkhouse Fam’s “In & Out EP” and Kutmah’s “Worldwide Family Vol.2″ we caught up with our dude Brandy Flower, co-founder of Hit+Run and our collaborators alongside Kutmah on the EE x SB x H+R monthly. We wanted to delve into the history of Hit+Run and their collaborations with Kutmah and Gaslamp that has gone back years, serving as a beacon of wilded out creativity and artistic expression.

Kutmah Two Soups And a Honeybun – Part 1 – UK Gallery Launch from Earnest Endeavours on Vimeo.

Kutmah Two Soups And A Honeybun – Part 2 – UK Launch Party from Earnest Endeavours on Vimeo.

KEEPING IT EARNEST WITH… BRANDY FLOWER

Text by Terence Teh
Images courtesy of Hit+Run

“Things have become so accessible with digital culture, it’s hard to find one’s true voice. Nothing will ever replace the soul satisfying spark of creative human interaction. The t-shirt is just an end product of the experience each guest has at a Hit+Run, so it stands as a symbol of their journey,” said Brandy Flower when I first interviewed the CREW back in 2010 for the launch of their UK brigade headed up by Hugo Toland. And that is the essence of Hit+Run. It is an experience, a collective, the CREW. We love Hit+Run and are proud to be down with them and there’s so much heritage that Brandy and Mike (Crivello) have created since they launched from a paint slicked kitchen back in 2005. They’re a pillar of the LA to global art and music scene and huge supporter of both Kutmah and Gaslamp (alongside countless more). We spoke to Brandy about the Hit+Run, Kutmah, Gaslamp triumvirate. The psychedelic unholy trinity.

When did you first meet Kutmah and Gaslamp and what were your first impressions?
I first met Kutmah in 2004 through the dublab family. One night I was visiting Frosty at the old dublab studios for a meeting about “UP OUR SLEEVE: the dublab covers project” and this dude was slouched in a chair in one of the dark corners… I wasn’t sure what he was doing but I heard mumbling and some pencil scratches. He never really introduced himself but eventually frosty informed me that he was Kutma (sic), one of the dublab DJs. I’d heard of him but not his actual DJing/music, but it became clear that he was a really shy, whimsical and artistic dude that just loved to draw. We started talking about this “Logan’s Run” soundtrack art and got along right away. Frosty and I were trying to get friends to make a piece for UOS, so I invited Justin to do a sleeve and by the following week he had done six! Eventually I saw him DJ and from the first moment I knew this guy was very different from the other DJs. Not only did he play a completely different mix of music (rock ‘n’ roll plus Aphex Twin!?) but when Justin got on the decks he turned into this different person, almost in a trance. Kutmah is white magic.

I met Gaslamp in 2007 after seeing him DJ at a really small (empty) club in Hollywood. I had heard of this dude with the sick name so I went to see him play and immediately I was like what the fuck is this guy playing? He was dropping new glitchy beat stuff with Black Sabbath and sitar music and I was just dumbfounded by his energy. Unknowingly, I was standing next to his evening’s date and started chatting with her in pure amazement. He walked right up to us after the set, introduced himself to me and I told him that I’d email him next week to keep in touch. He’s such a charismatic character that for some weird fun I started Photoshopping his face on random cultural icons (Charles Manson, Chewbacca, Tron, Gizmo, Animal) and sending him different jpegs to post on his MySpace page. He loved the dark wackiness and we got on famously from there. GLK is black magic.

How are you inspired by how they both approach music?
Both of them are the best DJs I’ve ever seen in my life, but neither is what you’d call a typical DJ in their approach or especially selections. They follow their muse 100%, but at one time not too many people were listening… now the whole world is. Fact.

They’re both the bastion of just proper real DJs.
Yeah, they each become a completely different person on the decks, fearless warriors determined to split your head open with awesome music. At any fucking cost. And if Kutmah can’t play the song first, he won’t play it at all.

When did they first get involved with Hit+Run? Was it the early graphic collaborations?
They were each just great guys and my favourite DJs so Will and Justin were instant Hit+Run CREW, even more they became our first CREW DJs and ultimately the music directors. Our community is so small that we just naturally drifted together over a short time and found a mutual respect and admiration for each other. I love Will and Justin and we say that to each other all the time… we’re all brothers. Love is the greatest power in the world.

What visual inspirations do you have when you’re creating artwork inspired by Kutmah and Gaslamp
Justin usually just does his thing. I help translate his art into CD art, t-shirt graphics, posters, and when he needs that tech help. I’m the assuring voice saying that the sketch he just made is fucking awesome and we got to do something with it before he threw it away. He has a more hand-drawn / organic approach as opposed to my bold graphic tendencies, so it’s refreshing to try something different with him. Will usually knows what he wants and has an amazing dark sense of humour so I like to push the limits on his graphics. Testing the boundaries of what is acceptable, shocking or would offend even him… I have succeeded, if you can believe it.

Gaslamp’s “Lake Of Fire” mix CD on Hit+Run is a certified classic, can you tell us about the mixtape series?
It all started with a conversation with Kutmah in late 2008. dublab had released the classic “Cities To Mountaintops” mix in limited quantities so I wanted to help Justin make a new mix to sell (and let everyone know how rad he was!). He quickly put together our first mix “Sacred Geometry” and it was an instant hit. After Will heard the “SG” mix he wanted to do the next one to coincide with an upcoming tour. He started the H+R mix and then OBEY hit him up to make a CD for them. It was an opportunity not to be missed so he took what he had completed thus far and went into a studio with Free The Robots, Romes and Kutmah to finish the “I Spit On Your Grave” mix for OBEY. Will was adamant that the new new mix that he was gonna make for Hit+Run was gonna be his best yet and he definitely out did himself. We re-pressed the CD three times and I feel it was the perfect ingredient to help propel Will’s image to the world. The LA beat scene was just gaining momentum but it didn’t make sense until it was documented on a Kutmah or GLK mix CD.

We’ve released 14 mixes since then by Nobody, Ras-G, Teebs, Zackey Force Funk, Crimekillz, Mono/Poly, Contact Field Orchestra, Jonwayne and we’ll have a new mix by Knxwledge in the Summer, plus more awesome surprises this year… “ROAD KILL”!

Hit+Run is global. Was that always the idea to create this community that is so diverse and international with roots in Los Angeles?
It wasn’t a specific goal, but we did want to help unite artists and build on this global art community that had been tapped into with “UP OUR SLEEVE”. We love art and music so it makes sense how the brand has embraced both the visual and musical art communities surrounding us and we’ve made something new and original. CREW RUNS DEEP!