By Pat Gunther
Los Angeles rap collective clipping., currently signed to Seattle’s Sub-Pop Records, offer up doses of distorted, heavy-hitting smart-ass rap music that is just as captivating as it is sonically abrasive. The industrial rap trio has recently released their follow up to 2013’s critically acclaimed Mid City, in the form of a 14-track smash-mouth LP called, CLPPNG. So, in the spirit of catching up with the dudes prior to their set at the Spanish Moon on October 12th, I got the chance to ask them a couple of questions.
DIG: What’s up guys? What have you been up to today?
Daveed Diggs: Oh you know, making rap songs.
DIG: How’s the tour going? What’s been your favorite stop so far?
DD: We are actually between tours at the moment. Which is great because we have a ton of work to do. But I think in general, my favorite tour stop might have been Köln, Germany. We just met really great people there. The opening acts on the bill were phenomenal. We stayed up all night talking and drinking a bunch of locally made liquor with the hosts. Those are the best shows to me. Not necessarily the biggest, but the ones where you get to have an experience you’ve never had before and meet great people.
DIG: What’s your least favorite tour location you’ve ever been on and why?
William Hutson: We’ve played some bad shows, but I don’t want to blame a whole city for that. Maybe we just aren’t that popular in certain places — or anywhere, really. But I’m not going to hate on a place in print. I will say, playing shows in college towns when school isn’t in session usually sucks. Rowdy jackass townies usually just want to hear their jukebox, not artsy rappers.
DIG: What’s the coolest or weirdest thing that’s happened to you on the road?
WH: The coolest and weirdest thing never makes for that good a story, but it’s when we’re in a country that we’ve never been to before, know absolutely nobody who lives there, and most of the people don’t even speak English, but they know the words to our songs. That blows me away every time it happens.
DIG: What albums have you been listening to lately?
DD: That new Busdriver is fire, obviously. Still slappin SB the Moor’s El Negro. But honestly I mostly listen to Kevin Gates these days. Like his whole catalogue. To me that guy is the best rapper breathing right now.
WH: Those Drexciya reissues on Clone. The new Drumm/Lescalleet double CD on Erstwhile. That box set of Pauline Oliveros’s electronic music. I picked up that collab album by Freeway and The Jacka but I haven’t had a chance to hear it yet. And, I’m not sure what inspired this, but a lot of older Baton Rouge rap — C-Loc, Max Minelli, Lay Low, stuff like that. That’s absolutely true. It sounds like I’m kissing ass, but I’m not. I was just talking to this journalist Jeff Weiss (who wrote the Lil Boosie feature for XXL) about the Concentration Camp CDs.
Jonathan Snipes: That new Aphex, obviously — but also: Dreamcrusher – Haine, Jungle – Jungle, Busdriver – Perfect Hair, Open Mike Eagle – Dark Comedy, John Luther Adams – Become Ocean, Sophie – Lemonade/Hard.
DIG: What’s the most fun song to play live?
DD: It’s different every night. I’m pretty into “Taking Off” lately.
JS: I’m sure that’s a different answer for all of us, but for me it’s definitely “Summertime” because I’m doing the most stuff during it — there’s a lot of controlled feedback I need to make, and sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
DIG: If you could have your dream piece of clipping. merchandise, anything in the world, what would it be?
JS: I’ve been pitching the idea of having a piece of merch that’s free, but only for people under 21 who have come to 21+ shows and were unable to get in. Like an exclusive single or something, and that’s the only way you can get it. You have to show us your ID in the parking lot, and then you can just have the tape or 7” or whatever it is. Obviously, this is a terrible financial idea, so I’ve been having trouble getting it off the ground.
DIG: Where’d you get the name clipping.?
JS: It refers to a particular kind of distortion in digital audio recording that’s usually thought of as being undesirable.
DIG: If you could pick any celebrity to come out and say they’re a big clipping. Fan who is it and why?
DD: E-40. He’s my all time favorite rapper and it would totally make my head explode if he had even ever heard a clipping. song.
JS: Mannie Fresh!
WH: Both of those are better answers — literally my favorite rapper and my favorite producer. But, you know, if Dr. Dre liked us then we’d actually have a chance of making some money off this stuff. We could make some beats, maybe ghostwrite some raps for Detox (or whatever it’s going to be called).
DIG: What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Louisiana”?
DD: I get this rush of endorphins every time I think about Louisiana. I’ve spent a bunch of time there in the last few years and it is one of my favorite places on the planet. I’ve said over and over again that New Orleans is the only place in the country besides Oakland where I really would love to live. I love Baton Rouge too. I remember the first time I went there I was maybe 11 years old running in the Jr. Olympics. Then I came back a couple years ago performing in a play that was in the BR Hops hip-hop/theatre festival. Met so many dope artists there and ate a ton of really amazing food. I am crazy excited to come back.
JS: Cash Money records!
WH: And No Limit. Anybody got a line on KLC? I wanna shake his hand and tell him how important his music was, even though most people don’t put him in their lists of best producers. It’s a shame.
DIG: What do you think is the biggest inspiration for your music? Other music? Movies? Art?
WH: We all read a lot. People might be surprised how often literature comes up in conversation while we’re working on a track. A lot of our ideas are generated from that.
JS: Also a lot of the inspirations for beats come from really boring technical ideas. Like I’ll get a new synth module, and we’ll make a beat around a really particular way of using it, or one of us will be reading some old sound design book and say, “hey – if you blow compressed air into ooblek (corn starch & water) it makes cool swamp & monster noises. Let’s make a beat out of that.” – sometimes tracks start that way.
DIG: Where do you hope for clipping. to be in ten years?
DD: Financially stable.
JS: Yeah, I would just love to be able to make a modest living making this music. That doesn’t feel like it’s asking for much, but given the success we’ve already achieved, and how little income that’s actually generated, I don’t really see it as a possibility, unfortunately.
DIG: If you could score any movie soundtrack ever, which one is it and why?
WH: I’m tempted to say some big-budget summer tent-pole, just for the paycheck, but in reality that would probably be a nightmare. A modest experimental sci-fi/horror joint would suit us fine.
JS: If someone re-made Candyman in outer space; like set in a housing project on a space colony. That feels like the perfect movie to me. I’d also love the opportunity to re-score the original Robocop. I love that movie, and I love the Basil Poledouris music, but I’ve never felt like the two fit each other very well. I think it should have an all-synth John Carpenter style score. It should sound like Escape From New York. If anyone has access to the dialogue & fx tracks from Robocop, I’d do that just for fun.
DIG: What are you expecting for the show at the Spanish Moon?
DD: I find it’s best not to expect things from shows. It’s always so different. But getting to perform this music with my best friends is alway fun so I’m sure I’m gonna have a great time.
DIG: What should fans expect from you when you hit the stage?
DD: Lots of rap songs.