Feature: Aybee

Picture of Aybee

Interview by Marc Kets

Having made his initial breakthrough with the very well received Freddie Hubbard and Minister Louie Farakahn sampling "Deep Blak'd" in 2004, on the resurrected Prescription Recordings imprint, Armon Bazile, a.k.a. Aybee, has since begun working alongside the legendary Ron Trent as the Indigenous Space People as well as releasing the slow-burning, jaw-droppingly beautiful "Revolution of 1 EP" on his own Deepblak imprint. With an album ready to drop this year, 2006 could turn out to be the year that this Oakland, California native finally gets the props that he deserves.

"Deep Blak'd" put you on the map, sampling Freddie Hubbard's fantastic "Little Sun Flower" (as used by Pepe Bradock on "Life") and topped off with speech by the Minister Louie Farakahn, would you say that this a political record? How does the current state of the world affect your output, if it does at all?

Political record no, Spiritual yes. The state of the world should be a constant motivation for one to move off of his or her perch towards a higher frequency. My folks in my hometown of Oakland, CA are caught deep inside a ghetto matrix. I was reflecting on the many soldiers that I have seen put under over the years when I did that joint. That speech by Minister Louis Farakahn was taken from the Million Man March. It captured for me the call to move forward towards a better set of circumstances.

You were the first release on the resurrected Prescription Recordings, how did you hook up with Ron Trent, and how has it felt getting into the studio with him on the Indigenous Space People Project?

Master Trent was referred to me by a friend of his who stumbled upon some of my music. We made contact, we broke bread, and a brotherhood developed quickly. Very few things in life are as gratifying as when artistic paths converge. Going into the studio with him was an honor. Ron's been in the game since he was 15. His contributions to the deep dance experience speaks for itself. His music resonates with a power that is distinct. The studio experience was intimidating, fun, and educational. I work in solitude. So sitting in the studio with someone else was new. I'm sitting there at the keyboard like "That's Ron Trent behind me!" It was bananas. I don't think a lot of people realize what a tremendously creative, and funny spirit he is.

The Indigenous Space People project is interesting in that it's a five part series "painting visions of galactic dance floor travels." What can we expect from future installments of the project?

We don#t know. That's the good thing. We are going to pick up where we left off. One thing is certain it won't be the same as the last. We want to get into the Spirit and continue the journey. Just get in the ship and go. Where we go, hopefully that resonates. When we are done you should be able to put all five joints together, and in the words of the mighty Afrika Bambaataa "Release Your God Self".

What are your aims with regards to your music? You seem very proud that the music you make doesn't seem to fit within any one genre.

Aims? Finding my way home... In regards to Genres wouldn't say proud, but let's just say we don't like linear parameters. I don't think any creative person wants to be shackled. Everyone has a voice, a stance. The beauty of music is the dialogue that happens. When having that conversation you want to be able to use a wide vocabulary.

What is the Underground Urban Electrik all about?

It's a wavelength. A creative point of origin that myself and many others find ourselves operating from. Children born of the blues, telling soul stories with electrik tools.

Who are your influences and why?

You... The reason you got up this morning. The reason you love. The reason you pain. The struggle. This conversation. That's my motivation. Life... How does one interpret those emotions through music? That's my artistic challenge. Dance and Music have always had spiritual healing powers. That's relative to my family roots, and my culture. The immediate influence may change daily but at its core it's the soul experience.

Your forthcoming, and eagerly anticipated album, "East Oakland Space Project" is due out next year. Did you have specific aims with the album? What were they? Are you satisfied with the final project?

The specific aim would be expression. Dialogue. Hopefully I can inspire, as I have been inspired. EOSP is a culmination of allot of things. Where I am from, and Where I from. Dig? It's my 1st Album so I think you want to let loose your battle cry. I keep my nose to the street, and my eyes in the sky. So the album will fall some where in between those lines. Building on the dialect so to speak. It's about 90% done. I'm just trying to finish up. I am very pleased with the progress. Putting an album together is an interesting emotional process.

Do you differentiate in philosophy between your different projects; Aybee, Indigenous Space People, Orion 70? If you do, how so?

Yes, I do. I carry allot of spirits inside of me. My ancestors, My family, and My friends, are always with me. Voicing my emotions musically can take on many moods. The different monikers are all parts of my personality. All operating from the same root. Family members, but distinct in their personalities.

You've done bootlegs of artists like Angie Stone, Michael Jackson and Floetry. What was it about these artists work that drew you to do your own versions of their songs? The Angie Stone tracks are particularly successful.

They all have different stories behind them. Angie Stone has a great voice. I don't know a producer who doesn't like playing with a good voice. It usually starts with hearing something. You hear something in the original you think you can flip or bring out. The Floetry came about from a suggestion from my boy Patrick Wilson, he was like "you should do something to this". The Human Nature - well that's one of my favorite MJ joints, so I was like let's se if I can flip it. It's usually something in the lyric that I connect with that gets it going. It's all in the spirit of exploration.

"All music is"black" music, all of it - anything you have ever heard - has African roots. Any musician from any culture knows this, whether they admit it or not. Millions of artistic waves have reverberated across the world and back in call and response." - Theo Parrish. Would you agree with this statement? Why?

He hit the nail on the head. Music at its core is Call and Response. The more interesting issue is WHO is calling you and WHY are you responding....

What would you say has been the most important record/album released over the past few years? Why?

Very difficult question. So many, and for so many different reasons... But one that jumps out at me on instant was Erykah Badu's - Momma's Gun. The range of emotions she hit on that album struck a chord with me. I had a conversation with a buddy of mine a few years back when it dropped, and I told him that it was one of the coldest albums I had heard in a while. He wasn't feeling me. So I asked him to sit down in his own time with no distractions and LISTEN to it. He hit me back like in 2 weeks like "Yo that sh*t was a motif". Music can make us reflect on circumstances, and inspire us. I think Mommas Gun did both in a tradition that is under assault in the soul music world.

What five records changed your thinking and/or your musical development? How?

Stevie Wonders - Innervisions (his music was like part of the house growing up, like the couch.) Sting - The Dream of the Blue Turtles (Poetic...) Boogie Down Productions - Criminal Minded (Memories of the trunk full of twelves beating down the block in the "TOWN", the raw power of hip hop) Michael Jackson - Off The Wall (Put in on this thanksgiving after we ate and watched 4 generations blaze the floor) James Brown - In The Jungle Groove (timeless)

Non-musical hero. Why?

ALI. A True SOLDIER. We live in the world of talk. He stood up for his. He put his nuts on the table for what he believed. That's power, that's freedom. I have lost so many in the last few years. Richard Pryor in the last few days. It makes me cling to Ali even tighter.

Upcoming: Future Vision presents - "Artifacts From The Future" EP (Future Vision) Aybee ft. FEMI - "Move It" (Deepblak) Aybee - "East Oakland Space Program Album" (Future Vision) Summer 06 Sites - www.deepblak.com | www.prescriptionworld.org new aybee mix at www.prescriptionworld.org aybee fofo sessions #2 | http://www.prescriptionworld.org/streamz/fofo2.m3u

Marc Kets, Jan 2006

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