Back2Pluto presents: One-On-One with DJ/Producer/Filmmaker FRNKNSTN
I met Pavel Gitnik aka FRNKNSTN at a producer showcase in Los Angeles several months ago (S/O to SLik d for the link) and I’ve been constantly impressed by the lane he’s been pursuing with his art. With the recent release of his debut album Beautiful Monsters, I figured we catch up with him to display this project in full form and give our readers a thorough taste of what he has to offer.
Mark: Give the folks at home a quick breakdown of who you are and what you do
FRNKNSTN: What’s up everyone? My name is Pavel Gitnik, and I’m a 24-year old artist and creative entrepreneur. I was born in Moscow, grew up in Israel, went to high school in Cupertino, CA and college at UCLA. I live in Westwood now and produce music and videos under the name FRNKNSTN.
Mark: How and why was FRNKNSTN created?
FRNKNSTN: It started out with me wanting full creative control over the music I made. Then I went after the sampling trophy. Then it became this whole philosophy that has to do with my approach to life. It’s symbolic. A self-chosen man drawing upon the past to create a future in his own image. But really, I wanted to make electronic hip-hop, and I couldn’t collaborate with rappers properly. I don’t know whose fault it was, but I gave up on that idea and replaced them machines. I think it turned out better that way.
Mark: Biggest DJ and electronica influences?
FRNKNSTN: Freestyler by Bomfunk MC’s and Red Alert by the Basement Jaxx have been with me since childhood. I’ve also really connected with Aqua, Eiffel 65, Daniel Bedingfield, Artful Dodger, Daft Punk, and A-lusion. I had Benny Benassi’s Hypnotica on heavy rotation for months, along with David Guetta’s Pop Life. That’s when I was in love and having lots of magical sex with the girl Beautiful Monsters is inspired by. DJ Aligator’s Music Is My Language deserves a plug here too. More recently, I’ve really been influenced by Zeds Dead. They always put the music first and don’t just try to show off their programming skills. That is something I really really value. Finally, Kanye’s 808s and Heartbreak was a huge influence on me as well, especially on this record. Kanye is my biggest influence in general.
Mark: What are the essentials for a dope remix track?
FRNKNSTN: It’s about fulfilling potential. Maybe a song didn’t take a certain emotion far enough the first time around, or maybe certain elements are screaming for you to take them down a completely different path. I think it also goes without saying that the remix must be at least as good as the original, and really should strive to be better. It must also significantly contribute to the world of art and culture. Some people forget that bit. Lady Gaga vs Pitbull, I am talking to you. And of course, it doesn’t hurt if it drops really really hard, but that’s a dime a dozen now.
Mark: Your favorite remix/mashup track ever?
FRNKNSTN: Oh come on, Mark, I’m not really one to weasel out of questions, but you know I can’t pick just one. Though I will single out Destination Calabria by Alex Gaudino for being my earliest mashup inspiration and for teaching me about fulfilling potential. As far as more recent songs go, Bassnectar’s Lights, Flux Pavilion’s Cracks, and True Tiger’s Commander. And let me throw in eDIT’s Artsy and Peaches’ Fucking Boyfriend as two classics worth mentioning. Oh and Zeds Dead’s Gimmie Shelter and Andy’s iLL’s Sun. Alright, that’s enough for now.
Mark: What was the idea behind the visual concept of Beautiful Monsters?
FRNKNSTN: Let me first say that Beautiful Monsters has a double meaning. The first is a comment on how I put the songs together and goes along with the FRNKNSTN concept. On a deeper level though, the record is about my relationship with my college sweetheart, the only girl I’ve been in love with to date. You can see the progression of our relationship from tracks 1 to 6, from the initial seduction to the ultimate heartbreak. In that sense, the title is referring to women and the power they have. The videos capture the mood of our relationship at each stage, and the girls are all pieces of her. It’s the same things that you fall in love with that end up breaking your heart. Like, we all want a sexy girl, but then it kills us when she gives a handjob to another dude 6 days after you break up. It’s a double edged sword. Or we want to feel needed, but that can turn into codependence and kill the flame. That’s essentially what happened. I am still a firm believer in true love. I’m a penguin like that, but this is also a cautionary tale. Love yourself first and foremost.
Mark: Your thoughts on the current state of dance/electronic music and what sets you apart from the artists in that scene and what do you hope to accomplish with your art?
FRNKNSTN: I think that electronic music is still in it’s infancy, or at least in this country. We just got these shiny new toys and we’re still really excited about pushing all the buttons. I would want to see more music with a message, more narrative, more emotional connection and impact. That’s what matters to me. We all know which music stays at the concert and which music comes home with us. The more experimental guys traditionally have more depth, but that music usually can’t hold my attention. It kind of sucks. I always feel like I have to choose between something banging or something that will resonate. I just don’t think it has to be that way. Queen doesn’t make me choose. I want to see more real artists who talk to us and who use electronic sounds and techniques as just another weapon in their arsenal. So that’s what you can expect from me in 2012.
FRNKNSTN’s debut project Beautiful Monsters is out now
(Click here to download)
Follow FRNKNSTN on twitter: @PavelGitnik
Back2Pluto.com presents: One-On-One with Photographer/Videographer/Graphic Artist Aliyah Sahar
Some of the most important aspects of what gets blogged here at B2P are definitely the artwork and photography used with an artist’s music. Nowadays, most bloggers even judge an artist’s music based on the quality of the accessory artwork/photography. Needless to say, the ones behind the cameras and computers have to be appreciated and are integral for a thriving music culture. After much delay (Aliyah, you can have all our b*tches), here is our exclusive interview with DMV-based visual artist, Aliyah Sahar.
Dave: Okay, so for starters, can you give our readers who may not know a lot about you a quick rundown about yourself?
Aliyah Sahar: Well my name is Aliyah Sahar but i also go by Trillary Banks. I’m from Richmond, California. I am a creator of art. Photographer, videography and graphic design. I run Kreative Khaos and Greater Citizens which you’ll probally hear more about a little later.
Dave: Since you brought it up, where did the the name Trillary Banks come from?
Aliyah: Well, one day me and my friend Alexis were joking around and we were and still are supposed to do a mixtape and we came up with names. Trilly Banks was mines but it just morphed into Trillary lol and then people just started calling me by that name. lol there’s a little bit of meaning behind the name, but I’ll save that for another time. lol
Dave: Haha, true, so do you prefer Trilly Banks or Aliyah Sahar professionally?
Aliyah: lol. Aliyah Sahar but either one is fine.
Dave: Noted. How did you get started in photography/videography?
Aliyah: Honestly photography has always been a huge part of my life. My mom is very artistic, and as a child i always took pictures and always had pictures taken of me. So I believe it’s just something I was meant to do, you know? Like it’s always been there. I got serious about it in high school. When i got to college 2 years ago is when i started videos.
Hippodramidan - After F (dir. Aliyah Sahar)
Dave: I feel you on that. Besides your mother, what are (if any) your influences as far as photography and videography are concerned?
Dave: They are both amazing at what they do, especially Burton. You mentioned earlier that you’re from Richmond, CA. When did you move to the DMV area?
Aliyah: I moved here a while ago, just before high school. I thought it was the worst day of my life. lol but as i got older more opportunities opened up to me and Ibecame more appreciative of the move but of course i go back every year whenever I can. California will always be home for me.
Dave: What part of the DMV did you/do you reside in?
Aliyah: I live in Virginia now.
Dave: How did Kreative Khaos come about? Is it just you, or are there others involved in it?
Aliyah: It’s just me, and it came about in high school when I started my photography business. Now it’s expanded to videos and graphics.
Kreative Khaos Photography
Dave: So far I’ve only seen photo shoots for musicians and music videos done by you? Is that your specialty, or do you do whatever is asked of you by the client, which happens to be musicians at the moment?
Aliyah: If you go on my site there is cover art, and if somebody contacts me and tell me what they need then that’s the service I will provide for them. I’m still growing and learning so there are things that i haven’t gotten the chance to do that i’d like to do.
Dave: What are your rates for your work (for those who don’t know)?
Aliyah: I charge $50 for cover art $75 for photoshoots and $200 for video.
Steezy Grizzlies x King Hippo - G.H.T.O. (Artwork by Aliyah Sahar)
Dave: What Is your relationship with the Kool Klux Klan, I know you rep them in your twitter bio?
Aliyah: Those are my brothers. I met them about 2 years ago. they’re very talented and I know that every single one of them will succeed in what they do; they’re so young but so talented. Those are my homies for life, they inspire me in a way.
Kool Klux Klan (Photography by Aliyah Sahar)
Dave: Word, that’s what’s up. I always wondered, is it hard working with them? They love to troll and goof around a lot judging by twitter and from the times I’ve actually hung out with them. Does this aspect go out the window when it comes down to business?
Aliyah: No it’s not hard to work with them. When we work together it’s just that much better because of who they are. They make it fun and they have a great energy.
Dave: Besides Kool Klux and Zoey Kash, is there anybody else you’ve shot videos for?
Aliyah: Yeah, Steezy Grizzlies, Tae Barz, BEz and Airborne and I have some other projects i’m working on.
Zoey Kash (Photography by Aliyah Sahar)
Dave: If given the opportunity, who would you want to shoot (photos) and who would you want to do a video for?
Aliyah: I think there’s too many to even name. because there’s rappers, producers, actors, but Blu, Theophilus lLondon, Arctic Monkeys, Pharrell, Gwen Stefani, Lily Allen, Johnny Depp, Jude Law, James Blake. etc. there’s many more.
Dave: Two questions: When will you feel like you have made it in industry? And when will you feel like you’ve done all you could in the industry?
Aliyah: Mmmm, I won’t know until it happens really, and as far as the second question there will always be something that I can and will be able to contribute. I feel like there is no limit as to what I can do in the industry. I have a lot of idea’s.
Dave: Finally, what can we expect from you in the future, not only with your craft, but with your creativity? Can we expect some crazy ish in the near future?
Aliyah: You can expect amazing work. I don’t know what the future holds but Ii do know that it’s going to be great. Hard work pays off, and I’ve been working. Lol, but expect the unexpected, that’s what i’m aiming for.
Dave: I’d just like to say that I really appreciate your drive. You are really talented and driven and your work shows all of that. This isn’t some blogger bullshit, I truly believe the sky is the limit for you. Keep it up. One last thing, for any artists interested, how can they reach you? And can you leave your website and twitter for them?
Kool Klux Klan representative and 17-year old MC/poet CRASHprez has been around the B2P circuits for some time now. We got a chance to sit down with the MC prior to him leaving for the University of Wisconsin at Madison to talk about his background, #KlanLife, his lyricism scholarship, Odd Future comparisons, and other topics.
Dave: So to inform anyone who may not know who you are, just give us a quick background of who you are, etc.
CRASH: My name is Michael Penn II. I’m 17 years old. I was born in Washington, D.C. but I was raised around different parts of Maryland. I currently dwell in the suburbia known as Fort Washington, but I’m relocating to the larger suburbia of Madison, WI for college. I am a KoolKluxKlan member as well as a student artist on scholarship under the First Wave 5th Cohort at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I rap, write poetry, produce, audio engineer, and dabble in Photoshop swagger to make artwork. Swag, cook, chef, #KlanLife, and all that good shit.
Dave: So when I personally first heard of you, on KoolKluxKlan member Avion’s mixtape “French for Plane”, you were called “MDP”. Why the name change?
CRASH: Ah, the infamous “Snack Raps” appearance. Anyways, those are my initials (my middle name is Darron… with an ‘o’). It worked for a while gimmick-wise and punchline-wise, but the name change came from the Summer of 2010 when I was running around the DMV poetry scene as a member of the 2010 youth poetry slam team that Maryland sent to Brave New Voices in Los Angeles. Dope Summer. On a random night in an adult soul food lounge in Baltimore, CRASH was born due to nervousness from not eating all day. After ripping a poem with the rest of my team, I damn near fell over onstage onto one of my teammates. (Shouts to Su Tin for catching me on her shoulder.) The nerves were fucking with my whole body… my vision blurred and I couldn’t hear a damn thing. Then when everyone finished, I almost fell off-stage and someone forced a glass of water down my throat until I came back to my senses and left under my own power. I remember a supporter claiming I was “so dope, [I] died”. Since then, my teammates called me CRASH for the rest of the Summer. The “prez” part of the name comes from the school nurse at Kettering Elementary calling me that because of how intelligent I was at such a young age. Plus, it’s kind of symbolic because most elders in society tell their children that they can one day become President if they worked hard enough. I ALL CAPS the CRASH because of how much I fucked myself over that day, and lowercase the prez because I got it a lot when I was younger.
Dave: Personally, I think Michael Penn II would be a dope rap name…
CRASH: I’m not exactly closed to that idea, either. That’s not the first time someone told me that. My last name is a fucking pun in itself, and I’ve already ran that to death. *laughs.* I may eventually say fuck an emcee name (props to George Watsky), but I’m comfortable with the image and identity I’ve started to implant in the minds of my fans. Either way, the content and the messages it’s wrapped in won’t change.
Dave: So you are going to a predominantly white school, for rapping? Kinda random.
CRASH: FUCKING RANDOM. I was accepted to 10 other schools, too… ranging from St. John’s (I am not a J. Cole-ass nigga) to Drexel to Loyola University Maryland to North Carolina A&T and so on. I landed on Madtown because First Wave pays for my tuition every year if I fulfill the requirements. I’m basically being paid to be an artist… with a 3.6 high school GPA. I’ve been in predominantly-Black Prince George’s County all my 17 years of breathing… time to see some new shit somewhere completely different. 85% White? Nothing I can’t handle. Even as a Klansman… *nervous laugh.* I’m blessed, man. Despite how arrogant my music comes off to some, I’m one of the most humble young artists in existence right now.
Dave: Explain the First Wave Scholarship.
CRASH: It’s a multicultural initiative at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that gives full-tuition scholarships to student artists based on their academic achievement as well as their strides in different elements of hip-hop culture. It’s mainly rooted in recruiting poets, but it embraces every element of hip-hop from poetry to MCing to breaking and back again. It’s the first, and currently the only, scholarship of its kind; ironically enough, it’s centered at one of the most prestigious universities in the country and on Planet Earth. Not only that, it essentially cultivates a scene in the last place you would expect dope artists to populate. It’s a beautiful thing, it’s something I’m grateful to be chosen for, and it will only grow as the years progress. Currently, with the addition of my cohort (the 5th), First Wave is over 60 deep. Who said all hip-hop artists were ignorant, again? *Kanye shrug.*
Dave: What came first, the rapping or the poetry?
CRASH: I wrote poetry mainly for assignments in school. I was good at it, though. I did a lot of open mics around the PG Arts scene. I even featured once. I started rapping in 8th grade for an after-school “Save the Music” program at Eugene Burroughs Middle School where we cut an actual EP in only a couple of months; we even threw a show. I initially met Avion during that time; I also got cool with Miles Meraki and Dark Knight (shouts to the C.H.E.S.S. Team). As far as formality goes, I was a poet before a rapper; now, it depends on what I’m focused on project-by-project.
Dave: So the connection between KoolKlux has been around for a while?
CRASH: Yessir. We became friends by our friends having friends and then it’s a fucking melting pot of dopeness before you know it. I met mattVISTA who connected me with SiR E.U who reconnected me with Avion and… the chain runs forever. Now we’re 10 members deep.
Dave: Describe what it’s like being in the Kool Klux Klan.
CRASH: We’re a not-so-secret brotherhood of rapping young men from the DMV who rap better than our contemporaries and your favorites. We swag. We make music. We have a lot of fucking fun when we perform. And we snatch bitches from unsuspecting bystanders. Ain’t no juice off in this hoe.
Dave: Do you hate the nerdcore comparisons?
CRASH: Niggas listen to nerdcore? Oh shit! Where I went to school, I was the nigga trying to put other people on to that shit. I had a phase of being heavy on mc chris and YTCracker. With that being said, I’ve never been compared to nerdcore artists unless you count Childish Gambino… which he would resent since he said “fuck Nerdcore” in “My Shine”.
Dave: Is there any difficulty blending the different styles within the Klan?
CRASH: No. In fact, the differences make us more cohesive as a unit. There is definitely a spectrum. Examples? rMell has an indie/alternative crossover sound. Loui has a more mainstream sound with rawer lyricism. CJ is more of a storyteller with a synth-based sound. Kendall Elijah is a strange blend of soulful R&B and indie hip-hop. Those are just a few. Our differences, as cliché as this shit is, keep the Klan more tight-knit when it comes to our unique presentation as a unit.
Dave: Can you speak on the OFWGKTA comparisons?
CRASH: Those are our contemporaries. I won’t speak for the other Klan members, but I enjoy their music a hell of a lot. Tyler, MellowHype, Domo Genesis, and etc… they have a lot of enjoyable material. As far as comparisons go, some of the elements of this specific one are obvious: age group (17-21), “don’t-give-a-fuck” authenticity, their West Coast sensibilities and our East Coast sensibilities. Other than that, it’s all up to the interpretation by the fans and critics. That’s simply what they’ll do… nothing much to say or do about it except keep doing our music like they do theirs.
Dave: Do you guys think you have the potential to be the next big thing in hip-hop?
CRASH: God willing. I think it’s almost guaranteed… there is too much talent and variety between the 10 of us for no one to blow up. #KlanLife is a movement that everyone will want to get a taste of sooner rather than later… I’m sure of it.
Dave: With college coming up soon, can we expect a new project from you soon?
CRASH: I’ve done a little recording and production-work since I’ve been home for the past month. I have to get accustomed to (actual) college life before I get in the habit of worrying about what my next release will be. But since hoes know you got soul, Dave Caldwell… this is rare BASED shit… I’m dropping another EP sometime this Fall. It’s called The Logicism EP. I’ve had this concept under wraps for some time now; If I were to guess a month… October 2011.
Dave: What can we expect a) from you? b) from the Klan?
CRASH: Expect bigger features, more videos, and a lot more original music from me. I’m stepping out of the mixtape realm now; Niggas can’t make mixtapes forever. As far as the Klan goes… we’re thinking bigger as a collective. That’s the new theme: “Thinking big”.
For more info on CRASHprez go to http://flavors.me/CRASHprez
Basement Bootlegs, Vol. 3: Transition, sponsored by Back2Pluto and TeamGoodLife, is available for download at http://www.mediafire.com/?a69em6ec51p4zug.