The internet is magic! Is it witchcraft? Is it made of dog memes? Who knows! But what I can tell you that I’ve found some very STRANGE but COOL obscure music out in internet land for y’all. You won’t learn much from this post, but hopefully your ears make you feel a good feeling.
Section 1: Nigeria
1. “Excuse Me Baby” by Dizzy K. Falola (1982)
There’s not much about Dizzy on the internet but, he’s a Nigerian singer and University of Ife graduate, who had about one hit that gained popularity in London before dropping off the map and becoming a gospel singer. Excuse Me Baby has some sweet synth bass and falsetto that can only be described as extreme.
Weird rating: Not weird
Obscure rating: How the frick did you find this? (to be honest I don’t remember)
OK rating: Sick, better than OK
2. “Enjoy Your Life” by Oby Onyioha (1980)
Oby Onyioha, also known as The Queen of Atrado Rhythms, is a Nigerian singer/songwriter that was only really ever popular in Nigeria. She had a few hits and then according to the internet, stopped existing. She didn’t die, there just isn’t any information.
Weird Rating: Slightly Strange
Obscure Rating: It’s on Youtube….
OK rating: Not as cool as Dizzy but still alright
Here’s a link to a SWEET website with VERY obscure music from Africa in general: http://www.awesometapes.com/
Section 2: Japan
Hey! Japan has more than JPOP. Just letting you know. Here’s some SWEET Japanese tracks to encourage you to dive into the deep deep world of Youtube recommendations. I’ve attached some full albums at the end for y’all as well. I'm not going to go into as much depth with these, cause I've got a lot.
Tatsuro Yamashita is my favourite to cook to.
Special shout out to Masayoshi Takanaka with the sweet jazz fusion.
Weird Rating: Not weird, just FUNKY
Obscure Rating: 5/10 - took some digging
OK rating: Pretty OK
Weird Rating: Pretty darn weird. Narration about goblins? The word goblin used as a beat? Yeah. Weird.
Obscure Rating: 9/10 - I couldn't find this and I was looking for it.
OK rating: Meh. Okay.
Weird Rating: Not weird, kinda sounds like a credits song for an anime?
Obscure Rating: 7/10 - I don't even remember how I found this.
OK rating: This is a BIG jam. I'd bump this at my wedding.
Weird Rating: It's pretty normal... EXCEPT FOR THE CROWD GOSPEL CHOIR AND FLUTE?
Obscure Rating: 2/10 - Taeko is actually pretty popular.
OK rating: Better than OK. Would recommend to a friend, would leave a positive yelp review.
Weird Rating: This is one of my favourite albums of all time. If you have time, sit down- give it a listen.
Obscure Rating: 6/10 - I found it while listening to Songs for Plants ?
OK rating: Oakey
Section 3: America
Get ready, we're getting into some strange stuff.
Weird Rating: Stay with me here... It's Avant-garden. Photosynthesizer? Great to listen to after smoking plants?
Obscure Rating: 1/10 However, within the sound synthesis community Mort Garson is surprisingly popular.
OK Rating: This goes hard AF. I've done multiple essays to this. My cat particularly enjoys it.
This is pure gold. No further comments.
Weird Rating: Space surf punk? Yes please.
Obscure Rating: IT'S SPACE SURF PUNK
OK Rating: I'm gonna start a pit, hold on.
Weird Rating: This is an hour of drone music.
Obscure Rating: 1/10, she's actually one of the founding mothers of Synth music.
OK Rating: It's really peaceful and helps you sleep if you have night terrors!
Okay, that's all for today folks! Hope you enjoyed.
Death to all men! Men suck! Men are trash!
Okay, I’m kidding. But honestly, I’ve gotten those remarks when speaking to other women in the twenty-something Toronto independent music scene. In my life, I’ve been in four musical groups, three bands. In high school: an ambient metal band. When I was 18: a folk duo that never got past open mics. 19 years old? A half-female punk band that formed, played shows, and disbanded all within a month. And now that I’m twenty I’ve stopped joining other people’s groups, and with friends decided to start my own kickass all girl band. But that comes later, firstly I’ll give you a history of why being surrounded by women is important to me on this International Women’s Day. And to accompany this, a playlist inspired by my band that highlights some femme-fronted, all female, and generally nice bands that fit our vibe.
In my first band, an ambient metal group, I was the only woman and only queer person. This band was considered mildly innovative by those we played gigs with for we not only “had a girl”, we also had (you guessed it!) a single (one!) person of colour. This is apparently innovative? I don’t know. Anyway, I played bass, and despite having composed/written most of the material, I wasn’t vocal because female-lead metal bands are somehow viewed as a different genre than the male-lead equivalents. My bandmates were sympathetic, for they knew I wanted to do vocals, and apologized before saying “don’t worry you can still do backup”. I settled and we auditioned lead singers and eventually settled on just letting the lead guitarist sing, even though he couldn’t.
Now I don’t blame by bandmates for the bias in the Toronto metal scene when I was 15, but I am still sorta unsettled by the fact that I was so quick to back down when they denied me. I didn’t question my friends because they weren’t actively working against me, but looking at it now, they weren’t doing anything to help. I wasn’t confident in my musical abilities and back then the only band I had heard with a female lead that was remotely hardcore was Flyleaf and all I knew was that I didn’t want our band to fall under the same category as them. My band didn’t want to do a Gwen Stefani/No Doubt where everybody only knows the lead, and I, as a novice with a bunch of intermediate bandmates felt lucky to be in the band at all. Was I in the band because I was a girl? Maybe. Did people come to the shows just to hit on me, a fifteen year old girl? I sure as hell hope not, but I was bought far too many a drink for it to be considered a nice gesture. Looking back, although I wasn’t playing what I wanted, or doing what I wanted, I got to play some great venues at such a young age that I couldn’t even dream of playing now. My bandmates were my friends and they did their best to make me feel like one of the guys, and at the time I felt like blending into a crowd of men was all I could ask for, now not so much.
My second group isn’t much to speak about, it was a pretty damn ideal dynamic despite the fact that we sucked. My friend Alyssa had just broken up with her girlfriend/vocalist (that’s right! an all gay band!), and was in the market for somebody to belt her gay love songs at the local beanery and happened to find me sitting outside a Starbucks with my guitar eating a muffin. Now now, don’t get excited man, we didn’t fall in love and Fleetwood Mac it, we just started playing as friends. We were supportive of each other and sympathetic. We were called “Just Earp”, closed our shows with 4 Non-Blondes – What’s Up? and didn’t amount to much. We ended up breaking up the band once I moved out of my parent’s suburb and couldn’t make it back to practice all the time.
Punk rock man, PUNK ROCK! TO,ON kicked ass and gained fans and momentum FAST. We formed through a Facebook page called Punk Rock Lottery, and within two practices had a playable set. Two girls, two guys, one of each a professional solo artist. Musically we all meshed well and Caroline was fantastic at song writing. She was queer, fierce, and good at any instrument she picked up. If she hadn’t moved to Spain she’d probably be the lead in my current band, but alas, a masters degree calls the cool queer Cowboy Caro to the far-far away land where men wave red things at angry overgrown man-cows. Tom, the guitarist, quickly grew to be one of my closest friends, and now fills in for my lead guitarist when she’s not available. Tom is great and supportive and treats all the women in his life as people, not as women. He jams with my all girl band as a group of musicians, not as a group of women. Tom is not, and never will be a problematic person (kind, caring, and considerate!). But Cristian was.
Cristian was a 30 year old man who had recently immigrated from Mexico where he made a living as a professional drummer. For some reason, he refused to play drums in the band, and instead insisted that I do it. Looking back I realize it’s probably because he was learning bass and wanted to use this band for trial and error. Now understand this, I had never played drums for anything other than Pomp and Circumstance in high school orchestra, and was an utter wreck. Cristian didn’t know how to play bass, and I didn’t know how to play drums but he still insisted on telling me how to use my own instrument whenever I happened to grab my bass off him to show him a lick. “No, that’s not how you hold it,” he said. “You don’t get how the pickups work,” he’d tell me. Not only did he do this, he’d constantly criticize me on drums. Negative feedback, not constructive; telling me I was bad, but not telling me how to improve.
Now it may have been that Cris was just a dick, but not only would he Criticize me as a musician, he would bad mouth me to the other members. This has nothing to do with his gender, shitty people are shitty people. But he never once said an encouraging word or told a member that they were appreciated. That’s why I decided to start an all girl band. Not because what the male half of the species has done, but what they haven’t had to do. Coming from a place where I was always silenced and pushed back (that shitty metal band), I’d see a female doing well for herself and trying hard and I’d yell encouragements. Tell others about the great work she was doing! Show off how somebody like me could have success in such a male-dominated industry. Women are never competition, they are allies, and somehow Cristian saw me as an opponent within his own band. He had tried devaluing me as a bassist, because he was a skilled musician and didn’t want to be shown up by somebody much younger and somebody less experienced in general, although better at bass. In Cristian’s career as a studio musician he was always trying to compete against others and prove he was a better drummer so he could get a better studio gig and play on that big track. In my world, the world of women, there is a certain camaraderie that comes from knowing no matter how good you are people will still view you as your gender, and then your skill. And no number of successful females you show me will take away my experience, or change my opinion.
Long story short, I started an all-female band because I was seeking support within my band. I wanted a safe learning environment where I didn’t feel uncomfortable messing up, or trying something out. The girl I started SNUG with, Jenny Yu, is also in a far more successful band than our current one. She has toured the U.S. of A and released more than one record that actually makes money on Bandcamp. Our guitarist Emily “Keylime Pie” Jacklin was in one of my favourite bands of all time Garbagio, and I had heard of her long before I heard her music, met her, or had the privilege of playing with her. And despite both of these women being far more successful and far more talented than me, I’m not scared to fuck up around them; I’m not afraid of being mediocre. I know they will see what I can be, not what I am, and give me advice and lift me up. Suddenly, I’m not “good for a girl”, I’m a decent musician who needs to practice more but will get there. They see potential, not competition. And frankly, I’m in love with a concept that must have been there all along among the boys I had played gigs with as a teenager. I’m no longer an outsider who happened to pass as “one of the guys”, I am myself.
All our lives women have been trained to work against each other and compete for the acceptance of men. We want to be pretty, or talented, and we want to be accepted and let into their clubs. We’re told that there are only so many spots for women in a men’s world, and even less for women of colour, queer women, disabled women, ESL women, and women that are not societally attractive. We try to mouse our ways in to find a home within the walls that men have built, try to blend in because we know we’ll be judged more harshly. Most men as individuals are not the problem, it’s just the walls are glass and they can’t see the structure that separates us just yet. There are women on the inside! We let women in! But one or two tokens that have clawed and fought to get there are not the majority. If the men do see these walls they don’t want to be the ones to throw the rock and shatter the glass because for that brief moment they stand out and are the outlier, they become one with women for a moment and feel what it’s like to be on the outside looking in. Men can hide the women within the walls, and smuggle them in. They can be their allies and friends and defend them against those who threaten to call them out but they can’t change the fact that the others exist; the ones that don’t want us here. The ones that catcall us at gigs. The ones that buy us beers not because we played well and deserve it, but because we’re women. The ones that say “pussy party” when you tell them you’re in an all girl band. The ones who are surprised when you tell them you play an instrument well enough to book a gig. The ones that say you’re “too pretty” for something. The ones that let you join a band you’re not yet good enough for just because you’re a woman and will make them look good. The ones I want to fight.
I started an all girl band because I’m selfish. I started an all girl band because I wanted to be appreciated. I started an all girl band because I want to sleep in the same room as my bandmates when we go on tour and I started an all girl band because I want to say “I love you”, “I value you”, “you’re amazing”, and “you’re beautiful” to my bandmates without them being worried if I’m trying to sleep with them. I started an all girl band because I want to be friends with my bandmates not enemies, and because I want to build each other up rather than tear each other apart. Not that all men do that, no! Not all men. But because I seek the brotherhood men have always felt, and that women have been denied. Sisterhood is a relatively new concept (there are a lot of women who still don’t understand) that has been hidden from us for centuries for we have been oppressed for centuries. Trained to fight for the right husband, and trained to prove that you’re “not like other girls”. I want to be “one of the guys” but because I am the guys, not because I have disguised myself. And I want to be in a band where I am a musician. JUST a musician.
So I’m gonna talk a bit about deja vu for a second, but you’ll see where this is going. And don’t get excited, I’m not talking about Beyonce ft. Jay z. In my own words, deja vu is the feeling of having experienced something before but you can’t pinpoint just where or when, but you’re sure you know it. Now this isn’t a simple case of knowing a Gwen Stefani song from the mid-2000’s and forgetting the name (bananas? shit? round that track?), a Deja Jam is a song that you’ve heard over and over and over and you recognize it but you have not a single clue how or why you could have ever heard this before.
Now, I’ve spent a lot of time researching Deja Jams (roughly three semesters worth of radio shows), and what makes a song recognizable (even though you could never hum a bar) boils down to two three categories: commercials, soundtracks, and sampling.
An example that comes to mind when I think of Deja samples is Minnie Riperton and pretty much EVERY SONG SHE’S EVER DONE. I’ll link an album down below, and I guarantee you’ve heard at least one song before. Some honourable mentions of people who’ve sampled Minnie: Kendrick Lamar, A Tribe Called Quest, J. Cole, Wiz Khalifa, J Dilla, 2 Pac, Busta Rhymes, Aaliyah, Nas, Pharcyde, Anderson Paak, Jay Z, Pharrell, Notorious B.I.G., Eminem, and the list goes on. And I can safely say I knew all the words to Inside My Love before I actually heard it. It's a great album regardless, so I'd give it a listen.
Another cheeky sample is from Smokey Robinson and The Miracles. "I Second That Emotion" has been sampled in Sublime's "S.T.P" and covered by Diana Ross, The Supremes, and The Temptations. The sample appears at 2:45 in S.T.P, and if I hadn't heard a cover of it in a Cheerios commercial in 2010, I wouldn't have known that Sublime's version was a sample.
Commercials. A great example of a Deja commercial happened in class the last week of March when Ehrlick played a song from one of his current favourite bands, The Record Company. I immediately shouted out something about it being in a commercial and lo and behold, after a quick Google search, they’ve been in a few beer commercials. I’ll link a song down below for you, and don’t tell me it doesn’t make you go “ooooh”. In my head all I hear is "Premimum Lager... something something... Canada... Explore the wilderness... Premium Lager", and don't try to tell me you don't hear it too.
Now to re-use my own example because I’m lazy and it lends itself to it, The Record Company is a very recognizable not only because of commercials, but because of Soundtracks. Have you ever watched Shameless? Suits? Orphan Black? Nashville? Okay well then, you’ve listened to these guys then. But!! Don’t mistake this post as a definitive analysis on things you know you’ve heard before but you don’t know from where, this post has not been the point.
All of this has just been a convoluted way to introduce the Deja Jams playlist that my friends (including Rob Bull, I know it says it’s “by” Rob) and I have compiled. Some songs you’ll know the names of (Sultans of Swing, anyone?) and others will be so obscure that a quick internet search will tell you that it was the credits song from that one movie you saw once when you were thirteen (Ween? Is that you?). But anyway, hope y’all enjoy.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.