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BADBADNOTGOOD Tears Up Earth Day, Sits Down For Interview

Wednesday, April 16th, 2014
Alex Sowinski of BADBADNOTGOOD plays in front of an epic sunset.  Photo by Matt Schonfeld

Alex Sowinski of BADBADNOTGOOD plays in front of an epic sunset. Photo by Matt Schonfeld

I first heard of BADBADNOTGOOD in the winter of my freshman year.  My roommates were giving me a hip hop education, and everyone I knew started listening to Odd Future rappers Tyler, the Creator and Earl Sweatshirt.  We listened to and watched everything we could find online.  A random YouTube search took us to a video of three kids still in music school.  Clearly set up in a classroom reminiscent of Zankel, the three began playing the opening chords to Tyler, the Creator’s “Bastard.”  The next thing I know they’re shredding through Gucci Mane’s “Lemonade,” but never how I had heard it before.  Gone were the drum machines, synthesizers, and vocals.  Inserted in their stead were acoustic piano, electric bass, and drums.  Jazz chords, and soloing, took the arrangement by storm building the song to a huge climax.  And just like that, I was hooked.

One viral video later, the trio quickly released their first record, BBNG1.  Buzz soon formed, and we learned that the three were jazz performance students at Toronto’s Humber College.  Almost overnight, an outpouring of love came from the hip hop community.  Tyler, the Creator played, soloed, and improvised with them.  Giles Peterson became an early fan and included them in his Worldwide Awards in London, England.  They released BBNG2, and then Frank Ocean called upon them to back him up at Coachella.  They’ve produced for Danny Brown, Earl Sweatshirt, and currently have much more in the works.  In anticipation for their first label-backed release BBNG3, off of Innovative Leisure, they headlined the annual WSPN Earth Day Music Festival.  Before their jaw-dropping, mosh pit-inducing set, we got to show them around Zankel and give them a jazz student’s inside look at the Skidmore music department.  After we got to show off for a sec, the whole crew sat down (along with their producer, Frank Dukes) for a rousing conversation about performance, hip hop, and what it means to be a jazz kid in 2014:

So which one of you at the end of BBNG 1 was like “Fuck Giant Steps, I hate that song?” 

Matty: It was Alex.

So as a drummer why do you hate “Giant Steps” so much if you don’t have to deal with the chords for it? 

Alex Sowinski: Well I don’t really hate “Giant Steps” anymore. I don’t really hate it. It’s actually a pretty fucking badass song originally

Matty Tavarez: I mean I don’t think any of us really hated the song. I think we hated the performance practice of it. It’s like “Can you play ‘Giant Steps’?” You know what I mean? But it’s actually not that difficult…if you go to music school. It’s stupid that people talk it up.

Alex: I was just being stupid and getting fed up with Jazz school.

Matty Tavarez: Yeah, we were in Jazz school and everybody’s like learning their new triadic elements and shit.

Do you think you’ve gotten a lot more from being out of that conservatory/Jazz school community? 

Alex: Yeah, one hundred percent, definitely. We’ve learned a thousand times more from being out of school for the last year and a half.

Chester Hansen: It’s just such a small part of music that you focus on in school and once you branch out into other things you realize how much more there is.

Did you guys get shit for the kind of Jazz you were playing from your professors? 

Alex: I mean the funny thing is, when we were in school we weren’t really playing stuff like that. It was literally like goofing around and jamming. The only time we played it for our professors was the one assignment we did with [Chester] basically, which, yeah, we got shit for.

Matty: It wasn’t like we were the dudes around town. It was more just us goofing around in our free time.

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Weekend Distractions CXIII

Thursday, April 10th, 2014

THURSDAY
8:00pm- Skidmore’s Carr Lecture: Megan McArdle @ Gannett
8:00pm- Mavis MacNeil’s Senior Composition Recital @ Zankel
8:00pm- Skidmore Theatre Department: If All The Sky Were Paper @ JKB
8:30pm- Lively Lucy’s Presents: Otter EP Release Party w/ Queen Amborisia @ Falstaffs
9:00pm- Putnam Den Presents: Pooch, amongst other local bands @ Putnam Den

FRIDAY
3:30pm- Spring Fling Weekend: HOLI @ Case Green
6:00pm- Hip Hop Alliance General Meeting w/ Free Chipotle @ Ladd 207
8:00pm- Skidmore Theatre Department: If All The Sky Were Paper @ JKB
8:30pm- Bo Peep EP Release Party w/ Los Elk @ Putnam Den
10:00pm- Spring Fling Weekend: Beach Party w/ Foam Tent @ The Spa
10:00pm- The Sketchies Present: Fever Dream @ Gannett

SATURDAY
1:00pm- EARTH DAY FESTIVAL w/ BadBadNotGood and more @ South Park Green
2:00pm-Skidmore Theatre Department: If All The Sky Were Paper @ JKB
3:00pm- Skidmore Community Chorus Concert @ Zankel
8:00pm- Skidmore Theatre Department Presents: If All The Sky Were Paper @ JKB
8:00pm-Liz and Cindy’s Senior Recital: French Horn and Viola @ Zankel
9:30pm-Ad Libs Longform Trifecta @ Filene

SUNDAY
1:00am- Hip Hop Alliance Presents: Block Party featuring RES KP @ Case Green
2:00pm- Skidmore Theatre Department Presents: If All The Sky Were Paper @ JKB

Missing something? Let us know in the comments

Earth Day Promises Killer Musical Lineup feat. BADBADNOTGOOD

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014
Another Garrett Lloyd Evans design.  Kid is killing it.

Another Garrett Lloyd Evans design. Kid is killing it.

Skidmore’s annual Earth Day Festival brings together various clubs around campus to provide family-friendly “earth-centered activities” for the campus community to enjoy.  We already know about a clothing swap, an afternoon hike, free food, and a petting zoo featuring Lil’ Sebastian.  But best of all, WSPN and SEC team up to provide a killer lineup of bands to keep us entertained all day.  Check out the run down and get ready for what’s shaping up to be the best Earth Day Festival yet.

BADBADNOTGOOD



This Toronto-based trio has backed up Frank Ocean at Coachella 2012, performed live with Earl Sweatshirt & Tyler, the Creator, and has produced music for the RZA, Earl, and James Blake.  They’ve also been the most exciting thing happening in jazz for the last few years.  They combine hip hop, traditional jazz, and other elements in an exciting and modern way and put on shows that will make you ruckus.

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Op-Ed: What is SEC and Why You Should Care

Monday, September 16th, 2013

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The average Skidmore students find themselves immersed in a culture barraging them with nightly programming that provide education and entertainment.  While members of our community usually find themselves at a swath of different events each evening, one night serves as an exception to that rule.  We’ve come to call it The Big Show; it’s the one night of a semester Skidmore’s Student Entertainment Company (SEC) hosts a no holds barred concert.  Usually in the sports center, this show draws nationally touring acts from the realms of hip-hop (Action Bronson/Danny Brown, Dead Prez, Janele Monae, Talib Kweli) to hipster indie chic (Mayer Hawthorne, Dirty Projectors, TV on the Radio, Yeasayer).  The concert, endlessly hyped by SEC and student outlets such as this blog, usually ends up with mediocre reviews and a lackluster attendance.  From my short time here, I can easily recall a couple choice stories.

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