SIXTOO and P-LOVE at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), tonight (Thursday, June 3). $10. 416-532-1598.
Sixtoo refuses to talk about working with Buck 65. The Halifax-born producer who rose to prominence with Buck as half of the Sebutones is pretty upset that I even asked. "Sorry, is this gonna be like a big part of the story?" he asks over his cellphone from his tour van in London, "cuz I sent out a primer to a bunch of people about stuff that I don't really want to talk about in interviews."
I didn't get the primer. Reminds me of his new album on Ninja Tune, Chewing On Glass And Other Miracle Cures, which I heard but also didn't get. It's what Sixtoo, born Rob Squire, really wants to focus on today.
"I was trying to make a record that sounds like the types of records I like to sample," he says. "It's influenced by everything from late-60s French pop-type stuff to American rock-type stuff - you know, like soundtrack stuff, and then, of course, referencing hiphop and the whole sample-based era."
The album, a dismal, mostly instrumental joint, is the perfect soundtrack for eating a cold bowl of soup on a dreary day or, better, for driving to the hospital to pull the plug on a loved one.
"Most of the record's in a minor key, so by the nature of that, the record's gonna sound a little dark," he says defensively. "I mean, in the same breath, I think there's a lot of really beautiful stuff there, and there's, like, space and nice chord changes, and for me it's more than just dark."
The sophisticated production of Chewing On Glass goes beyond just sampling and represents a new direction for Squire.
"We'd start out with a basic foundation drum track and then record live tracks over top of it, and then resample and sequence that," he explains. "So basically, there was a lot of going back and forth between live material and then editing that stuff on a sampler."
His passion for the technical aspect of production is clear, but according to his brief online autobiography, emotionally, Sixtoo's music is the product of living in an almost constant state of shock.
"People's ignorance about everything that's going on in North America right now, especially in regard to the commercial appropriation of culture and the exploitation of it," are what's driven him into this state of shock, he tells me.
His bio furthers this line of thinking, positing that Sixtoo is a brand, then condemning a musical environment "that can instantly co-opt culture and exploit it."
Oh, I get it now. The album is completely inaccessible on purpose, a bleak sonic stand against evil corporations that buy the rights to underground instrumental hiphop and use it to sell cars and soft drinks - a surly counterstrike to Moby and even RJD2, whose new album sounds like it was designed expressly to be co-opted and licensed out, yeah?
"Yeah, I mean that's really far removed from my own philosophy and thoughts about music," he says. "Unfortunately for me, it's sort of a necessary evil, in some ways.
"You know, I'm not necessarily opposed to licensing and using music in commercials if it's pertinent, if the ads in some way agree with the culture you're supporting."
I'm confused. Is this explained better in the primer?
"But I think making music and selling music have nothing to do with each other."