Hip-Hop Core : Who are you ?

M.Fusion: I am M.Fusion.

HHC : Why are you doing music?

M: It helps to get the sounds out of my head! I started off long ago as a skater. I got my first board in 1978 and it was as tall as I was. Fast forward to 1990, and all my skater friends were starting to branch off into other activities... school, jail, and everything in between. A few of my friends got into DJing, and soon I found my niche as a DJ and producer. This way, I could still hang out with most my friends without necessarily going to school or jail. I was known in my neighbourhood as a person who had a 4 track and was down to record for people. "Theme From Kid Real" is from those years. I do have sounds in my head at all times, I think it's a form of OCD. I had OCD as a child pretty bad, with tics and stuff. But now I think of songs and sounds to keep my mind occupied. Recording these sounds and sharing them with others helps alot.

HHC : Can you talk about nice records, are you the only one behind this organization ?

M: Yes, Nice is all me. I started the label back in 1996 to put out a 7" called "Poplok b/w WKRP". I didn't really know anything about running a label, and I knew even less about running a business. I just wanted to put out some music and get things rolling. Today, I still don't know a whole lot about running a business, but that was never the point anyway. I just want an outlet for my stuff.

HHC : Could you tell us about your connexion with the Shapeshifters and LA2Thebay.

M: I was introduced to Die by my friend DJ Presto. Back in 2000 I put out the second Nice Record, "The Blue EP", which was four instrumental tracks. Die heard the song "Plan 9" and liked it, so from there we hooked up and ended up recording Dead Air. The Dead Air Project was recorded during a time where both Die and I were very isolated, troubled people. The circumstances were perfect for us to make that record...we would lock ourselves away in my apartment studio for days at a time and drink lots of beer. After we recorded the songs, which took about 3 months, we kind of stopped hanging out...I think we were burned out after such an intense time. But I didn't want the project to go to waste so I pressed 300 copies of vinyl. I sold a few here and there, and gave many away, but it wasn't until I met Deeskee that the Dead Air record really started moving. Deeskee lived up north at the time, near San Francisco. His connections got the Dead Air record into the right hands. Then he moved down here to LA and I got to know him better. Deeskee, Jose and I had a few sessions and recorded "Into the Ring" and "Unsolved Love", and soon after the Dead Air cd was released. After that, I started going out and meeting more of the people in the LA scene. I found everyone to be very cool and down to earth. Die would introduce me as the guy he did Dead Air with, and people would say "oh, that was you!?" I had known about the Shifters for a long time. Rob One had the Fly ID show on CSUN radio way back in the early 90s. Also, I grew up with that dude Deja Vu, who is good friends with many of the group members. There was also the graffiti angle. Everyone in LA who knew anything about graffiti knew about CBS. I was friends with people from other crews such as AWR and UFK, and we always were out checking out the motor yard and other spots. I saw alot of Exist, Mear, and Circus art long before I knew anything about the Shapeshifters. I knew who all these dudes were, but few of them knew anything about me. But as I hung out it became clear that we all had alot in common, and they liked the Dead Air stuff, so it just went from there. So I could say that I am a freelance producer who has been fortunate enough to work with some of the Shifters and other underground artists. Now I am also a part of LA2THEBAY as an artist, which I'm very thankful for.

HHC : How did you make up “Expo 70” ? How long have you been thinking of it ? why did you wait so long before dropping your debut album ?

M: Expo'70 comes from the World's Fair, which was held in Osaka in 1970. I have always been a fan of Godzilla movies and Japanese monster flicks in general, and there's a movie in which one of the monsters runs amok at the Osaka Expo '70. 1970 is also the year in which I was born. I've been thinking about doing an album called Expo '70 since the early 90s. I had no idea what it would be though, until last year. It all fell into place. I waited a long time because, after recording Dead Air, I felt extremely drained and didn't record anything for nearly 2 years. Also, this past year, I've been playing Star Wars Galaxies as much as possible because I am an RPG freak.

HHC : How did you work on the tracks with vocal featurings ?

M: We did most of it in my home studio. I record on ADAT with an Akai s900 and an sp12, sequenced with a broken Alesis mmt8 (it sequences but it does not respond to the buzz track). Then I add keyboard stuff with a Casio CZ-101 and Kawai K3. Then I transfer it to Sound Forge and mess with it until it is no longer a wave, just a fat line. Sub did Voice/Over at his place and gave me the pro tools session disc, and These Streets was recorded at DJ Presto's.
Most of the vocal tracks didn't need to be manipulated at all because these guys all know how to make vocals look easy. All I had to do was adjust the levels. On Subtitle's track I have a triple delay. I wanted Voice/Over to be really wild because it's the crescendo of the album.

HHC : Where did you get this appeal for movies such as those you sampled for your album ? (“Eraserhead”, “Dawn of the dead”...) ? Is it your main source of inspiration ?

M: Yes, movies are my major source of inspiration. My favourite types of films are those that can convey big ideas in a serious way, but at the same time not take themselves too seriously. George Romero, John Carpenter, and David Lynch are some of the artists who can do this. Dawn of the Dead, for example, is a totally horrifying movie that is as serious as a motherfucker, but at the same time it's very funny. Carpenter too...I use alot of Carpenter samples on Expo '70 because he is very effective at using subtle realism to create scary situations. So with my music, I'm trying to do the same thing. I find life to be scary, serious, and funny at the same time.

HHC : I found similarities between some tracks of your album and some by artists from the Anticon crew (especially Odd Nosdam). Are they part of the artists you listen to ? According to you, what did they bring to Hip-Hop during the past few years ? Do you consider that you're doing the same music than these people ?

M: I definitely know about Anticon and I've heard alot of their stuff. I think we're coming from the same general place...their website links show me that I have alot in common with their tastes. I have never met any of those dudes, although I'm sure I will at some point. One thing Anticon has brought to hip-hop for sure is dialogue. Anytime you have something that challenges people's perceptions, you have a good thing. There are certain people in this world who think that rules and opinions should never change. I am not one of those people. I give Anticon credit for being political too. My buddy played me a Sage track called "Makeshift Patriot" the other day, and I was impressed by it. It's tricky to be political without being preachy, but Sage pulled it off with that one.

HHC : What do you think of the whole West Coast underground scene ? From here, we can feel that it has expanded during the last few months, do you share this opinion from where you are ? If you do, how can you explain such an evolution?

M: I think this scene has something new to offer to the world. West Coast Hip Hop has been a source of creativity for two decades now. Macola Records, the Roadium crew (Tony A, Dj Quick, et al), KDAY (featuring LA Jay!), NWA...this stuff has been long established and continues to be. For groups like Project Blowed, The Shapeshifters, Living Legends, Jurassic 5, these are all people who have been putting in ALOT of work for a long time. It only makes sense that this is the next wave of artists to bring their art to the rest of the world. From my perspective on the last few months, it seems that things are getting a little more organized. You've got Dropbase and Top2bottom doing quality shows, and you have AWOL and 2Mex getting major distribution. And of course, you have Spin declaring the advent of Emo Rap :)

HHC : What are your favourite present artists ? Who are those you would like the most to collaborate with?

M: My long term goal is to produce for Bjork. I'd also love to continue to work with the people on Expo '70, as well as others from the LA scene.
In my car I have been playing the following tapes:
The Cure – “Standing on the Beach”
The DOC – “No One Can Do It Better”
Ministry – “The Land of Rape and Honey”
Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark – “Architecture and Morality”
Eurythmics – “Touch”
I also continue to love Radiohead, Squarepusher, Devo, and Fela Kuti. Of course, it should go without saying that I support anything by the Shifters and LA2THEBAY artists!

HHC : Mf doom or Kool Keith?

M: MF Doom!

HHC : Aceyalone or Mikah Nine ?

M: Aceyalone!

HHC : Stanley Kubrick or David Lynch ?

M: Lynch!

HHC : What are your plans ?

M: The next Nice release will be an 8 track 12" EP of selections from Expo '70, along with instrumental versions. I'm also having people remix stuff from the album for a complete remix CD which should be done sometime during the summer.

Interview by Kreme
July 2004

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