Reef ‘n Roll

Kinnie Starr comes for tea
The day before she was to join her contemporaries at the “Divas in the Round” performance for New Music West, Kinnie Starr bicycled over to my house for some tea, certified organic fruit and conversation about her forthcoming debut for Mercury Records entitled “Mending” including her attempts at packaging the disc in hemp paper.

Kinnie’s no stranger to the hemp movement. Along with DOA, the Rascalz, Third Eye Tribe and others, Kinnie played a benefit party in February 1996 at the Town Pump after Hemp BC’s first raid.

CC: (in a dork voice) Hi Kennie, so how’s it goin?

Kennie Starr: (in a geek voice) Pretty good eh.

I heard a rumour that you were trying to do your CD packaging on hemp?

I was trying. You see the problem with working with a corporation like Mercury is that I’m an artist that sells super-small quantities of records and Linda [her manager]did a whole bunch of research through Eco Source in Victoria and Green Man Paper Mill in Vancouver BC, in terms of trying to put out a sort of booklet instead of a standard CD. Mercury wouldn’t give us the clearance for that because, first of all, its really fucking expensive. Hemp paper is not affordable.

So when you came to Mercury with the idea, did they say “sounds great, here’s your budget. If you can do it, go for it?”

Kinnie StarrKinnie StarrK: Yea, cuz the way my record deal is structured, Violet Ich Records provides Mercury with the final product, but Violet Ich doesn’t have enough money to over-shoot a budget like that. I would be willing to take a certain set back if I could. But I couldn’t within the price range. It’s irritating really, like organic food. If more people would buy organic, the prices would go down but few people can afford to buy organic food.

[Phew! Our blood pressure was going up. You know corporate-control talk and all, so I thought a mood lightener was needed.]

Want some more tea?

K: Yea, sure.

How are you enjoying your new hair cut?

K: It’s pretty good, but there’s moments of trauma where I remember my braids.

Because long hair, there’s a certain power in that.

But the same with short hair especially as a woman. It’s like fuck you I’m going to cut my hair. It’s cool. Cutting my hair makes me feel like I’m just mmm ? a person, not hair.

Okay, back to the focus. What do you think about musicians who do work with hemp?

I think it’s great if you can do it.

But no one’s done it, that’s the thing. Who’s done it?

Well I don’t know who’s done it, that’s the thing. That’s why I wanted to do it. You know, maybe if I could release a record through a major label that’s released on hemp, other people will go “hey, that’s cool” and then you could help hemp products lower in price.

Have you given up the hemp idea completely?

I haven’t given up on releasing something of mine, but I have given up on releasing “Mending” on hemp.

Kinnie StarrThat’s the new album?


How was the process of making it?

It’s been cool making it. The record has been made in lots of different stages and it’s called “Mending” because people used to be really important and people don’t seem to take care of their shit or take care of their friendships anymore.

Or even clean up their dishes.

Or even clean their fucking dishes for that matter. It was very hard signing onto a corporation, some of my friendships got really strained from that because none of us, including me, really understood what that meant. So the record is very much about taking care, if you fuck something up, if you rip something you mend it, you don’t just throw it out.

There’s some co-writes with JC [Jacob Cino of Third Eye Tribe] on it which makes me really happy because he’s the most important person in my musical life, cuz him and I really grew together musically ? like we always have.

My cousin, Lindsay Davis [formerly of the Colorifics], is on it, as well as phone messages from my friends. It’s got a feel of like a friend record.

When’s the release date?

I’m hoping to release it in September/October in Europe and Canada and then probably not until Spring 1999 in the USA, but I’m going to hit the road in July [Hillside Festival in Guelph, ON] with or without the release of that record. I’m playing the Clayoquat Festival August 7 to 9 and the Michigan Women’s Festival also in August.

Kennie’s first CD is called “Tidy”, an amalgam of chunky geetar, hip-hop beats, powerful spoken word and sung poetry. It is available on Violet Ich Records, #473 916 W Broadway, Vancouver BC, Canada, V5Z 1K7.

Long time Kennie Starr fans will notice a departure from “Tidy’s” chunk-hop feel. “Mending” is more of a desert soundscape of smooth guitar/sampler textures, with Kinnie’s trademark, sensually seductive, passionate and honest voice and honest beats. A little less chunky but just as deep.

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews?

Kinnie StarrArtist: Grimskunk
Title: Field Trip
Label: Indica

If you didn’t know who you were listening to, the first two minutes of Grimskunk’s new epic “Fieldtrip” might fool you into thinking you were hearing some previously unreleased “Dead Can Dance” but with a much less monotonous male singer. Soon enough, however, Joe Evil’s keyboards announce that in fact somewhere near by Grimskunk are lurking, waiting for the opportune moment to send the house into a moshing hard-core frenzy, and if you’ve ever caught them live you know this would not be a difficult task forthem. Definitely a must see live. Unfortunately, the West Coast is far from Montreal and the next best thing is this new live album. Very well produced (Andre Gielen) while still retaining a live-energy feel.

The marijuana content required by the CC authorities is found on this album, less in lyrical content (unless the French, Greek, or Arabic word or Ganja somehow eluded me) and more so in the charming packaging, which you’ll have to check out yourself.

Overall the album rocks, skanks, struts, cha-cha’s and pummels its way through 13 tracks of East meets West Coast, ethnic flavoured skankcore. With the right distribution, “Fieldtrip” ought to do deservedly big things for these boys. Standouts include “Gotta Find a Way,” “Live for Today,” the funky “Looking for Gabbio” featuring Konee from Race, “La Pistolera,” the dubbed out “Dimming the Light,” and the punska of “Ska-se (Shut Up!).”

If you could imagine walking down Vancouver’s Commercial Drive, Grimskunk’s “Fieldtrip” would be the perfect soundtrack for the sights, sound and smells that come your way.

Kinnie StarrArtist: Dub Syndicate
Title: Fear of a Green Planet
Label: Shanachie

Back in the Spring, the Dub Syndicate took to the stage at Richards on Richards in Vancouver amidst a pre-recorded audio introduction announcing what sounded like we were entering into the “end times.” This set the mood for the evening; bass-heavy, trance-inducing, roots-dub tweakiness. It was a pleasure to see (if barely, considering the clouds of cannabis smoke) the eager legion of fans bobbing in unison to the beats from the self-proclaimed masters of 21st Century Dub.

Their 1998 release “Fear of a Green Planet,” does a fairly good job at reproducing the live experience, more so if you have a sound system that can handle the chakra-aligning bass therapy. The disc offers a production clarity that brings out the aforementioned tweakiness: the synth swoops, pops and pings, and samples that poke their way past your frontal lobes.

The entire album, from the packaging to the songs including “Sizzle bud”, “Each breath I take” and “Higher than high” gives it up Rasta style for the sacred herb. Special vocal appearances by Big Youth and Little David, as well as haunting violin lines throughout, keep the delay heavy (would it be Dub, otherwise?) and the flow of the disc interesting from start to finish. If you’re looking for a blend of roots-dub and fresh sounds check out “Fear of a Green Planet.”

Before signing off, I thought I’d mention my household’s recent visit from Vancouver’s finest (or is it funniest?). 10 armed cops invaded my home based on a crimestoppers tip that the whole house if full of marijuana, and carried out a police drug raid, only to discover a mere 4 plants, grown as medicine for a housemate’s arthritis relief. When is invasive and utterly unacceptable behavior like this going to end? Cops battering your door down, guns in hand, handcuffing you for no reason is fucked and it’s got to stop! I feel sorry for you folks in the United Snakes of America who’ve got it even worse than us Canucks.

Peace, Keep on, Keep on.

Last issue we made a mistake. Due to editorial confusion, the third album reviewed last issue was misnamed. It’s actually the Nordic Trax compilation put out by Mo Funk. We called it “Under their Influence”, which was actually the name of that section of the review.