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EX Vortex Internetview


20 October 2002 No Comment

Ghetto Metal. Peep it!

EX Vortex bring to the table their own ‘Ghetto Metal’ sound, that when heard as the man says has a ‘powerful impact’. Whilst they have built solid foundations with collaborations and connections, there is a definite sense that the present and the future are where their focus is – world domination hardcore style being the ultimate goal.

JOSHSAM: Tell us about the group, what does each member bring to the mix (both musically and otherwise)?

Baye Osei: I’m Baye Osei the vocal enforcer of the group. I bring pure power, energy and kick-ass lyrics to the group.

Juan Mitchell: My name’s Juan Mitchell – I’m the guitarist of the group. I’m also the backing vocalist and assistant constructor of the “GHETTO METAL” sound.

John B. Washington: Chief cock-blocker (laughter)! No, I take that back – Juan is not a cock-blocker -This is John, I provide the bass for the group, I also provide different graphics and design the flyers. I am the band’s main music director. I reach things off of high counters because the rest of the band is short (laughter) and um, that’s about it!

Gregg Washington (No Relation): The name’s G. WASH – I’m Gregg the drummer, I provide the foundation to the funky grooves that you hear, and um, I like to go out on the edge every now and then.

Baye: The Beat Master! (Laughter)

Machete X: The name’s Machete, I’m the turntablist for the band, I destroy anything in my path – I’m a competitor. In other words, I just rip shit man.

JOSHSAM: Your first two releases on Slam ‘Buck Whylin’ and ‘Powerbomb’ have old school rap influences/references in them – Buck Whylin being more obvious, but Powerbomb’s intro some has that old school NWA type influence.

John: In the song “Buck Whylin”, we tried to make it identifiable to the original (On Terminator X’s solo LP ‘Valley of the Jeep Beats’) for those who already know the old version, but at the same time add some new things in there, just to make it fresh and make it our own.

With “PowerBomb”, I was just thinking of a simple groove that everyone can feel, and I think it came out well.

JOSHSAM: Why Buck Whylin?

Baye: The reason why we chose “Buck Whylin” was that years ago, when I heard Sister Souljah and her crew w/ Terminator X perform the song, it really influenced me with the whole military aspect of the song. I have always had mad respect for Public Enemy, from their music, their message, their lyrics, just being the innovators that they are. So I just felt like, as a tribute to them, we should choose one of their songs that best represented what we stand for, that and the fact that everyone was influenced by P.E. in one aspect or another; update this song, put our own twist on it, and bring it to the 2000 era.

JOSHSAM: When you went about re-creating the sound of the song and the music was it difficult to stay faithful to the original whilst at the same time bringing your own flavour to the song?

Gregg: Not really. If you listen to the verses, they were kept similar to the original. Coming up with our own parts and lyrics wasn’t difficult – it was all done within a short period of time. We made a few different arrangements to it, and there you have it!

JOSHSAM: You haven’t gone for a straight up cover of it, with notable changes in the lyrics, again is that deliberate in order to mark your own identity on the song or at least this version?

Gregg: Most Definitely! That was the whole idea. The song was inspired by the original version and we initially wanted to do our own thing with it.

Baye: In short, Public Enemy has their sound and we have ours. We just wanted to take a Public Enemy song and make it part of our song. So when Chuck D gave us permission to cover it, I didn’t want to copy the same song over, I wanted to give it a fresh sound and give it that E.X. VORTEX touch.

JOSHSAM: ‘Powerbomb’ packs one hell of a punch, is that your way of dropping a subtle hint that EX Vortex are here?

Juan: Uh, yeah I would say so (laugh)!

John: All of our songs pack a powerful punch – E.X. VORTEX has arrived! Can’t front on that. “PowerBomb” exemplifies that. A new era – Ghetto Metal!!

JOSHSAM: You take songs like that into the live arena and that must be an awesome show?

Yes, Definitely! Like the fellas said, we try to make all of our songs exciting, yet listenable for any one who maybe even wouldn’t like this style of music. We try to bring a live feel to our music and project that to the audience. We give the audience our energy and they in turn give us energy back, which makes it a great show!

JOSHSAM: I interviewed The Scallions recently who are very happy to label their music ‘Power Pop’; similarly with yourselves you very deliberately label your music Ghetto Metal. Why do you feel the need to differentiate and label your music?

Baye: Well a lot of people have put our music in the rap/ metal category. But I feel that rap music is something that you do, and hip-hop is something that you live and I really feel that. Hip-hop is within us because that’s the culture we come from. But we’re doing rock music, so it comes natural to us. And even though some people might look at the term “GHETTO” in a negative way, it’s not, because a lot of great leaders have come from the ghetto. From the ghetto, you learn how to make a dollar out of 15 cents, so we learned how to use what little resources we had in constructing this E.P. to make a powerful and strong revolutionary sound.

JOSHSAM: The 25th year since the death of Elvis is upon us – the mass media’s King of Rock n Roll – and the number of black rock groups hitting the mainstream is growing gradually do you think that the pendulum is finally swinging back to the point where it is not only considered to be ‘white’ music?

John: Well, I would say fuck Elvis for one thing. I think that it has not gained widespread acceptance and that’s shown by the commotion that’s made over his passing 25 years later. I would say that, Elvis as far as for a black group had no influence on us because it’s known that what he did was copy other black contemporary artists and was able to have a long and prosperous career with that, so he has no bearing on what we do.

Baye: Amen!

Gregg: I would say so considering the recent number of increased collaborators of rap artists with rock artists. Also most if not all rock music today is Hip-Hop influenced.

JOSHSAM: More rock groups are adding a DJ to their line-up, what do you think this adds to a group both to the music and to the performance of that music live?

Gregg: It certainly adds another dimension to the sound and performance.

Baye: Machete X, instead of being just a regular mix D.J. – There’s a few good D.J.’s, and a lot of wack, imitating impostors and X just uses his turntables as an instrument, and just rips shit up, you know, instead of playing the regular scratches. All that wiggy,wiggy,jiggy,jiggy stuff (laughter) ! He brings an extra energy to the group, which is something the band needs, he is a vital part of the group’s core sound.

Juan: Exactly. We don’t see him as a DJ. His turntables are an actual instrument that adds to the group.

Machete X: I just do what I do, you know? I just let my turntables do the talking (Laughter)!

JOSHSAM: With an appearance of Outkast’s Stankonia, shows with people such as India Arie and Powerbomb getting heavy airplay on college radio – oh and not forgetting the Slamjamz deal. What’s next for the group? How do you plan on moving forward onto that next level? In fact what does the group consider that next level to be?

Baye: World wide domination. Getting the GHETTO METAL sound out there and making it a household name. Continue to innovate. Like groups before us, like P.E., Parliament/Funkadelic…different groups like these who have innovative sounds, like Nirvana, etc….that’s what we’re doing with our sound!

You know, get out there, just kick ass and take names and have songs that will last 30 years from now, so your kids and great-grandkids will able to be influenced and say ‘damn, they were talking about some things that made sense and are still making sense as of this day’.

Juan: I do think we have something different to offer. Something more different than the groups we look up to-the Bad Brains, the Funkadelics, Fishbone, Body Count- one of the great black metal bands by the way. They definitely paved the way, and if it were not for them, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do! And we hope to bring it to a much higher level than them.

JOSHSAM: You’ve been going since 99 and a year later in 2000 you are featured on Outkasts album how did that come about?

John: You know, in life, there are no coincidences and every thing happens for a reason; we were brought into that situation at the last minute before the completion of their album through relationships that were established by Baye and also divine intervention. But, we did the Outkast thing and although we would like to work with them again and anyone else major in the future, in the meantime, we are concentrating on E.X. VORTEX and we want to bring what we do to you, the public.

Gregg: We got that gig through a mutual friend of ours, Regina Davenport, who is an A& R for them.

Baye: I also want to give a shout out to Regina as well! She did play an instrumental part in that, like the fellas said. Be on the lookout for Big Boi’s Solo CD, as well as Killa Mike’s Album. I was in the studio with them recently and I previewed their tracks they both sounded fantastic! Those guys (Outkast, the Dungeon Family) have been a big influence on us and the whole Atlanta Hip-Hop scene. I mean, even though we do Rock and Hip-Hop, we like to surround ourselves with people like Chuck D and Public Enemy who are about just gettin’ out there and rippin’ people’s ass! ‘Cause if you hang around people that are serious and disciplined, that influences you and builds your energy level up and makes you want to do the same thing. That’s what we want to do, you know, just make a motherfucker re-think his occupation; like if they got onstage with us, they would think, wooah-I can’t fuck with these cats (Laughter)!

JOSHSAM: You recently performed at The Atlantis Music Conference, competing to earn a recording contract. How did that go?

Gregg: That went very well! We got a lot of positive feedback from different labels and management, but overall, the audience LOVED it, especially those who got a chance to experience E.X. VORTEX for the 1st time. They said it was nothing like they had ever heard before, that’s that Ghetto Metal sound!

John: Well, overall, I think it went well. But we are still unsigned at the moment, if that’s what you’re referring to. A situation like Atlantis (music conference) is very political and we were never relying on it to be the end all of making or breaking the band, so we are a lot more excited about our current situation with Slam Jamz and not focused primarily on that particular conference. But we did make a lot of reputable contacts and have established some beneficial relationships out of that.

JOSHSAM: For an up and coming artist being picked for that conference must have given you that boost to carry on or even just some sort of sense that you are headed in the right direction?

Baye: Like John was saying: you don’t put all of your chips in one basket and just rely on one conference, because we have the freedom to express ourselves the way we want to and yeah, we didn’t get a deal out of the situation, but a lot of times deals don’t come overnight. Everyone has their own time to shine and it will be our time as well. I think the world is ready for 5 black wild ass muther fuckers to get out there and kick shit hard! They don’t know about us yet-but they will!

Gregg: Definitely!!

JOSHSAM: Recently we have heard about the situation Clyde Stubblefield is in financially due to his health situation. Do you keep one eye on the future to guard against something similar? Or does his situation make you start to think about it?

John: As an individual, I’ll always plan on what will I do next; I do foresee a day for myself where I won’t have to get up and do any damn thing, but as the group is concerned, the things we are doing now are focused on us one day attaining financial security for ourselves and our families, and the future money that we will make will be invested for whatever reason, should something happen, and we’ll be taken care of.

Gregg: Well, as far as health-wise, all of us are drug-free, health-conscious individuals, with regards to the financial issue we are familiar with the business aspect of the music industry and we all work together as a team. Our primary focus is success.

Baye: First, it’s all about the music with us , but we want to make sure that we invest, you know, like you see more established artists these days are getting into film, starting a clothing line, or like Master P., investing in real estate- I think that’s very important, especially with black artists. We’re musicians, we’re artists, we’re serious about our music, but, we want to be into all facets of the entertainment industry and make this band a business. We want to prove that not only can you be successful artist, but you can also be a good businessman.

Juan: You know, I think it’s a shame that a lot of the black R & B and Blues artists before us , you know, back in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s got little or no compensation for their outstanding musical contributions; the industry at that time was highly racial. They just totally abused them and stripped them of their rights. We want to make sure that we have a good secured situation for our future because I feel that, that is something that should not happen again with any black artists. Sure there are still some that are naive and don’t know exactly what they are about to get into; but I find these days that black artists are more business conscious at attaining this, and I think will be even more hands on as far as their financial futures are concerned. Because loving what you do and prospering from that is, I mean, there’s nothing like it, and we definitely want a good, stable, secure for ourselves.

JOSHSAM: On a final note, tell us a bit about your Ghetto Metal EP.

John: The Ghetto Metal E.P. is just a little sample of what we are about, and we will be coming out with another project some time in early 2003. It’s still untitled at this point. The E.P. is just a showcase of what the band has to offer. I would encourage anyone, if we play in a town near you, it’s worth the money. Come check us out! The Ghetto Metal E.P. is just a taste of what the band does musically. We do Hard Rock with different flavours of Hip-Hop, Punk, some jazz influences thrown in there; R&B…So, if you are into aggressive music, you’ll love this record!

Gregg: Ghetto Metal is an introduction to us, it gives you a taste of what’s to come – it packs a punch!

Machete X: We are out to rule the world – Ghetto Metal in full effect!!

Baye: We’d like to thank Chuck D, Public Enemy and Slam Jamz for every thing they’ve done for us up to this point and look out for P.E.’S new project and up coming tour! E-mail us at E.X. VORTEX @ HOTMAIL.COM and just request our E.P. When we get a bigger budget and more finances, it’s gonna be even sweeter! But right now, we just doing this Ghetto Style-taking the little resources we have and making the Best recording we can make.

Juan: We just making sure that each small step we make counts. We’re making headway for 2003! Get ready! Comin’ at you aggressive style! Ghetto Metal all in your face. And we out! Much love and peace!

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