Heather Newman: Hello everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the Mavens Do It Better podcast where we speak with extraordinary mavens and experts who light up our world. Today I am in New York City. Thrilled to be sitting in the East Village.
KJ: That's right.
Heather Newman: Cause I needed to get that right. I'm sitting here with members of The Oddysy. DJ Johnny Juice has been on the show before and we're here with KJ as well, the other part of the band, The Oddysy. Fellas, you want to say hi to everybody.
KJ: Hello everybody.
DJ Johnny Juice: Howdy.
Heather Newman: Howdy. So yeah, so I got to see the fellows play live this last weekend at the El Cortez in Bushwick and it was awesome.
KJ: We were glad to have you out there.
DJ Johnny Juice: Yes, thank you for coming.
Heather Newman: Yeah, absolutely. It was terrific. So, I missed y'all when you were out on the west coast for NAMM.
KJ: I know, how ironic is that?
Heather Newman: I know, we were ships that pass in the night. So, I wanted to have these guys on because they're amazing and it's wonderful to see two folks come together with musical backgrounds that are a little bit, I guess maybe different, disparate, different and wanted to just tell everybody about who you are, what you're doing, what you're working on and how it's been, you know, blending kind of two worlds of music. So, KJ do you want to?
KJ: Well that's the most exciting part for me is the idea that the two such different musical voices came together. It's my favorite part about this project. It's been inspiring. We wrote upcoming record over the course of, I don't know, the better part of a year, I guess, together sending files back and forth. Very, very modern, totally digital. And it was just a, it was a running experience like I've never had before. And I really, it's the way that I think I would like to do it going forward now forever. I mean it's, it's very incredibly creative. It was, you know, being able to, to trust the other person creatively and know that the stuff coming over is going to be of a, of a certain level, which is a very high level, and to be able to freely write to it and send it back and have a creative exchange of ideas. It's been a wonderful process.
Heather Newman: And so, and you are the lead vocalist and you play the bass.
KJ: That's right. Yup. You know, in terms of writing the record, we, you know, we share a lot of duties. You know, mostly we have our, we have things that we do most of the time. Juice sends over tracks, beats and arrangements and orchestrations. But, a couple of the tracks there have, you know, have elements of beats that I put together, pieces of lyrics that Juice wrote. Juice played bass on one or at least one song. Um, which is ironic, you know, that I’m a bass player and I didn't write on the whole thing. So, you know, live, we definitely have our separate domains, but with the record it was, it was very collaborative. Whoever was closest to the instrument that needed to go down and had a vision. That's who did it. And I love, I love that there are no sacred cows that you know, that you can, that you can just, uh, you know, feel free to be creative in whatever way the music asks for at the time.
Heather Newman: Just seeing, I mean, I heard many of the songs already before seeing you live and it's just amazing to me. It sounds like a, you look up there and you're like, there's two dudes up there, you know, and it sounds so full, the full like, like there's like a full band and practically an orchestra. So, like, I mean Juice you've produced for, you know, for a long, long time and putting stuff like this together. How has it been for you working with KJ on putting together the album?
DJ Johnny Juice: Well, it's very organic. I have worked like that with quite a few people in recent years out of necessity because I was inaccessible, or they were inaccessible. Or people would email me from the other side of the country or the world and say, Hey, I need this done, I need that done. And a lot of times they couldn't come to my studio when I was in Long Island and I moved to Upstate New York and then it was even harder to reach me. So I started becoming comfortable with that process. That's how KJ initially hit me, he said, yo, can you do some scratching on some records? And I'm like, sure. And the emailing part is the easy part. The hard part is trusting the other person to actually, you know, kind of align with your vision too. Now when I do work for hire, I don't care, you know, I do whatever they ask me to. They want me to do this, I do it. And that's it. But when it's your own thing, it's different, you know, you know, you kind of have a feeling of what you want it to be and then you hope that the other person you're working with understands that. As a producer, which is separate, like when I'm producing somebody else's work, I'm trying to bring out what the artist is really trying to say. If it's myself, I'm trying to bring out what myself is trying to say. So, some of the tracks I sent to KJ, I had titles for already and I'm like, Hey, this is what I call it. The very first song he sent back that we did like that was "Cold Blooded" and he sent it back and it was literally exactly what I, cause I actually wrote something but I didn't tell him what I wrote. I didn't tell him at all because I sang something in the shower actually. And I'm like, hmm. And when I wrote it, I said, you know, this is what it's going to be then I'm like, you know what, let me send it to KJ, see what he does. And I gave him a title, but I didn't tell him anything other than what the title was. I didn't give him the melody anything. And he brings back the same exact melody that I sang and it was ridiculous. I'm like, oh my God, that's what I was going to do anyway. Maybe not the lyrics exactly, but the chorus. Actually, the chorus isn't exactly the same but close enough. So I'm like, wow, this looks like it may work. So almost everything I sent him it was like right on the nose. Boom. And it's, it's, it's interesting. It was surprisingly wonderful. And then you learn to trust that it's like, you know, I know KJ is going to come through with something hot, you know, and then, and of course, you know, he came, through with some different arrangement.
KJ: (Phone rings) Sorry.
DJ Johnny Juice: You have to delete that because we're violating copyright. So, him bringing back what he bought back was great. Also arrangement things like, you know, if he felt something different in the arrangement and he felt like a chorus should be here instead of that being that area being extended, he would send those back too. And then I would modify what I have and then I would add things on top of it. It was kind of like we were both in the kitchen cooking and he started on one side of the kitchen and I started on the other side of the kitchen. But then at the end we're just throwing stuff at each other's bowls and we're mixing it all together and it's worked great. You know? And, and I haven't had that in this way in a long time. The closest is probably the Bomb Squad with Public Enemy. But that was more of a big fight to try to put your vision on the record. So this guy's like put this sampling, this guy's like, no, that's dissonant. And then this guy's saying, what the hell does dissonant mean? And this guy's saying, you know what? Both of you guys get outta here and I need some French fries from across the street. So eventually that friction is what made Public Enemy's music sound angry and like it had friction, because it was. You tried to figure out whose voice is going to be loudest on this record and it ended up being Chuck's. But musically it was everybody, you know, kind of like trying to get their piece onto this record where this was the opposite. It was like, what don't we need and let it breathe. You know? And that's cool. You know, being,
KJ: Let it breathe.
DJ Johnny Juice: Being, having space is hard for a lot of artists.
Heather Newman: Well and connecting, sometimes is hard. Like sometimes it like some of the, like those best hottest relationships are where you're pulling each other's hair, right? And then other times it's like, well, can it be easy?
DJ Johnny Juice: Well, I don't have any hair, so it's a good thing.
KJ: The relationship thing is exactly what it is and the, you know, that, that sort of creative tension and the give and take and you know, finding a creative mate, you know, that Lennon and McCartney, Richards and Jagger kind of thing. It's, they're few and far between. And you know, I think, you know, you feel you've got to feel lucky when you find somebody that you can sort of open up to creatively and trust creatively and have that back and forth.
Heather Newman: And that doesn't always happen.
KJ: Rarely actually.
Heather Newman: And we're leaving in all the sirens and all the horns.
KJ: It's New York City baby.
Heather Newman: That is New York City baby.
DJ Johnny Juice: That's New York. That's right.
Heather Newman: So we're going to leave those in for some flavor of course. And so, with the album coming out sometimes this year?
KJ: Yeah. It's imminent now. I mean, it'll be out in the next, in the next month or so, I would think. We're excited. I mean, it's been a while putting it together, you know, we had to, you know, we went through this process of getting to know each other and discovering each other and writing these songs and then sometimes rewriting portions of them because, you know, the relationship had developed. And then we got, we have some, uh, just absolutely amazing guest artists. We are honored to have, you know, Chuck D from Public Enemy, Darryl McDaniels DMC from Run DMC, the guys from Leaders of the New School, Charlie Brown and Dinco and Milo and Garry Shider from Parliament Funkadelic. I mean, it's going to be a star studded record and, but it's, you know, and that's the icing on the cake, but the cake really has substance as well.
KJ: I mean, we, you know, we worked hard and we wrote what we felt was true and real and natural. And I'm proud of us for, for doing that. We didn't go after a market, we didn't try hard to write pop songs that would be acceptable. We, we wrote our personal truths and they became our collective truth.
Heather Newman: Definitely. I mean, I don't think, I wouldn't call it pop-ie, you know what I mean? And, you know,
KJ: No, we don't know, we never know really what to call it. It's, it's got, you know, certainly strong elements of hip hop and jazz. It's got elements of soul. It's, you know, the pop comes in. If it comes in at all, it's in the, the fact that there is a discernible verse and a chorus and a bridge. There are hooks. We write hooks because we do that naturally. Both Juice and I have been in, you know, in and out of the realm of popular music, whatever that is. Hip Hop is popular music. Jazz was the popular music of its age. So, you know, Juice and I just both write hooks. That's what we enjoy doing, hooks and grooves. So in that respect you could call it pop, but not from the standpoint of pop tarts.
Heather Newman: Which are yummy.
KJ: Well, yeah,
Heather Newman: But you don't want to eat a lot of them, you know. How long have you been playing bass?
KJ: I've been playing the better part of 20 years, I think. 20, maybe even 25 years. It's been a long time. Yeah, I've come a long way around. I went to school for music. I studied jazz originally. I studied with and played with some amazing people and was very lucky to do so. And then found my way into the rock business and rock and pop and RNB.
Heather Newman: And you're South African...-ish?
KJ: I was born in Johannesburg. From there we immigrated to Toronto, Canada, and then to Philadelphia, which is where I did much of my growing up. And they went to school in Philly. Yeah. University of the Arts. And then I moved to New York.
Heather Newman: Yeah. Yeah. Interesting. When did you first put your, put the fingers on the record?
DJ Johnny Juice: Put my fingers on the record, man. Had to be like 79' or 80'. I had a cousin named Benji and I haven't seen Benji, actually, he's my mother's cousin. I haven't seen him in a long time. Last time I saw him, uh, was unfortunately my grandmother's funeral about a year ago before that I haven't seen in a long time. And the first thing he said was, you got to tell my son the story. And I'm like, what's that? And he goes, tell him who influenced you and I'm like you. And he goes, I told you! It's like nobody believes him, you know what I'm saying, and I'm like, yeah. So, my mom's favorite uncle, tio Louie, his youngest son was Benji. And we would go over there cause my mom loved tio Louie. And I'll be honest with you, a lot of them are a lot older, they're my mom's cousins.
Heather Newman: Where was that?
DJ Johnny Juice: That was in the Bronx. So, I was not very satisfied sitting in the living room with old people, you know. I'm a little kid. I'm like, come on man. It's like, you know, what am I doing here? Eating like them little weird Stella D'oros, you know, whatever they had out. You know, so I'm like, yeah, so I hear music coming from Benji's room. So I went up there. I'm like, you know what, since he's the youngest and I found out recently, he's only a couple of years older than me. I'm thinking he's like 10 years older than, he's only a few years older than me. So I went up there and, he had equipment. So I was like, Yeah! I went up there it was like the starship enterprise. All this equipment and lights and stuff. And I'm like, what!? I need to be in this room, kid. You know what I'm saying? And he wasn't really like a scratch DJ or anything like that. He just kinda makes new stuff. But you know, one day he's like, hey, you want to try it? And I'm like, yeah, so you know, went on, did a little something that was it. And I'm like, Yo, I gotta buy that. My mother's like, you ain't buy nothing. You ain't buying nothing! So I would hang out and I was a break dancer. I was b-boy at the time, a rocker. So I would always be around the DJs, but I was too young. They wouldn't let me get on the turntables. Until eventually I found a dude named DJ Will who had equipment and rappers and he would like me around b-boying. But they would go smoke their weed because that was their thing. And that was the time, that was my opportune time to jump on the turntables. So, I would hope that they would smoke as much as possible and he had a whole posse. So I'm like, they going to be a minute, you know what I'm saying? Cause they gotta pass, you know, so while they're doing that I just got busy.
KJ: I would've gone and smoken the weed. Buy, whatever.
DJ Johnny Juice: Turntable was more important than the weed to me so.
KJ: Alright, you got to have your priorities. I respect that.
DJ Johnny Juice: And I got good real fast. And eventually, you know, he told me about another dude named H.i.G. who was a bomb DJ that did clubs and Will was dope with the cuts and he did mix tapes. He's the first person I heard cut his name. He took it, he took "Play That Beat" by G.L.O.B.E & Whiz Kid where it said "the DJ will play this for you". And he took it and said "DJ Will", cause that was his name. "DJ Will" and I was like, Ohhhh! I was bugging, I got to find a record with my name in it. So, you know, then I hung out with H.i.G. and H.i.G.'s younger brothers was KBMC and he said you got to get together and be like a little rap group. And his younger brother grew up to be Charlie Brown from Leaders of the New School. And that's how I had my little crew.
KJ: Charlie Brown, who we played with the other night, at the show you came to last night, with Leaders of the new School, Dinco and Milo. So it all does come full circle.
DJ Johnny Juice: And Busta was a member of my b-boy crew. So
Heather Newman: Busta Rhymes?
DJ Johnny Juice: Yeah, Busta was a member of my b-boy crew. So I found him. He found me actually, at a roller skating rink asking me to, to be down with my crew. Him and his little brother Paul and they were super energetic and he was popping. He wouldn't stop. Yo, you gotta put me down, gotta put me down. I'm like, calm down my man, you know. No, no, you got to, you know, come on right now. And I'm like,
KJ: Can we just spend a moment thinking about Busta Rhymes on roller skates? That's a good picture that I'm going to have in my head for a little while.
DJ Johnny Juice: But that was, back in those days that was the spot. You'd go to Levar(sp) Town roller rink and we'd skate around and then the last hour they would let us take the skates off and just dance. So that was what we were already waiting for. So when that was done took the skates off. And then we battled. We battled all the break dancers and everybody came to see that. And I was at the time, I just moved to Long Island from the Bronx. I brought a lot of stuff that didn't see in Long Island yet. So, people were either looking for me to battle me or to be part of my crew. And Busta was trying to be part of my crew. I named him Kid Craze because he was nuts and he was down with the crew and you know, and we won a lot of battles. We did our thing and eventually, you know, and I met Brown, who was going to school with me, so I knew him, but I didn't know him, you know, and I'm like, Hey, I know that guy. When H.i.G. introduced me to him, I'm like, who the hell is that and your house? I know that kid, he goes to school with me, I hate him. He goes, that's my brother. I'm like, what? So then eventually he's like, he rhymes, you should get together. So we formed a little crew and eventually Busta became part of the crew and we were called the Bum Rush Crew. Me, Charlie Brown and Busta Rhymes but their names were KBMC, that was Charlie Brown's name, crushing, his name was Brian. And everything was crush, crush groove, you know, cold crush. So he was Krush BMC, Krush Brian MC. And then Trevor's, Busta Rhymes' name was MC Chill-o-Ski. Terrible name. But, um,
Heather Newman: That's like my Polish grandmother, right?
KJ: Yeah, seriously.
DJ Johnny Juice: That's good! You're the Polish rapper? Yes, MC Chillosky. Would you like some perogies? So, you know, eventually Chuck D changed their names, gave them Busta Rhymes and Charlie Brown. But that's, that's how I started out, as a b-boy transitioning to a DJ and you know, meeting these guys in Long Island. So I really kind of became a DJ more on Long Island than I did in the Bronx. In the Bronx, I was this b-boy dude.
Heather Newman: Two personas, different boroughs.
KJ: That's how New York does it.
Heather Newman: I know it depending. So where did Juice come from?
DJ Johnny Juice: I was named that when I was born. I was born very, very early. I was premature and back in those days, they didn't have the technology they did. So they didn't know if I was gonna make it. And I was the oldest of my generation. So when I was born, everybody was in the hospital. But back in those days, only the father and the mother were allowed to see the baby. So, everybody lied and said they were with my pops. Well my mom, my mom's a tomboy, so all her friends are like, I'm the father, I'm the father. They all wanted to see the baby, right? So, so one of my mom's good friends Gabe and his younger brother Roland was best friends with my father. Gabe came and saw me and you know, my moms was like, you know, worried. And he's like, ahh, don't worry about him. He'll make it, man, he got the Juice, you know what I'm saying? So, what are you going to call him? I'm gonna call him Johnny after his farther. Yeah, little Johnny Juice. And that was it. And I didn't really use it in the hip hop since until I got a little older, but maybe, you know, maybe getting into double digits in age, I said, Yo man, I'm gonna use the name Johnny Juice. Gabe's still rolling around. He still calls me Juice and he wants a cut.
Heather Newman: He's like, I did that. Well everybody calls you KJ.
KJ: My mom started calling me KJ, actually. My parents were divorced and remarried and my mom changed her name. And so we had different last names. And I think that, you know, it just sort of, it came out of, it came out of that, you know, us having different names. She calls me Kay or KJ and I didn't, I didn't use it for the longest time. I just wanted to be Kevin and, um, you know, for your listeners, KJ stands for Kevin Jacoby, which is actually my name. And then I dunno, my friend group started calling me that, you know, a few years ago and it just started, you know, I just started calling myself that after a while. It just stuck. It's a hell of a lot easier to spell.
Heather Newman: Yeah, absolutely. Speaking of namings and words and all that sort of thing, The Oddysy?
KJ: Yeah. Um, so The Oddysy,
Heather Newman: Which is the name of the band, so we're clear.
KJ: So strangely enough, I made a list of names that I wanted to, when I was thinking of names for the band, I wanted to call it a bunch of different things. Originally it was called DX 7. It was named after a famous keyboard that Yamaha made. And, somebody convinced me, perhaps rightly so that, we were never going to win the search engine wars with DX 7 because you know, the first 9,000 pages of the search are, and um, you know, maybe that shouldn't matter to me and maybe it didn't, but I figured, well, okay, you know, it's as good a reason as any to change it. So, I made a list of names and The Oddysy came from, I had just watched Spinal Tap and at the end of, somewhere towards the end of the movie, the lead character I think is David St Hubbins. He said something along the lines of, we're not going to do a free form jazz odyssey in front of a festival crowd. Which in context was hysterical to me. And, that sort of was the grain that gave birth to the idea of the word Odyssey and then spelling it the way we did, I think I just liked the, you know, it's spelled O D D Y S Y and that's where you can find us online. The Oddysy, O D D Y S Y dot com and on social media at The Oddysy. Juice and I, we are the quintessential odd couple, you know, we are Felix and what's the other one?
DJ Johnny Juice: Oscar.
KJ: Oscar. Thank you.
DJ Johnny Juice: Felix Unger and Oscar Madison.
KJ: I knew you’d know the last names. Juice is just like a font of esoteric knowledge.
DJ Johnny Juice: Cause I'm Felix. I'm all, like you know, you know, detail oriented and Kevin doesn't give a shit. Meanwhile, sometimes I just don't give a shit. It just depends on what the shit is.
KJ: It's possible that we trade back and forth, actually. I have my anal moments too.
DJ Johnny Juice: Right. He's very particular about certain things. But I think everybody is.
KJ: And it's, you know, it's a total journey. You know, it's an odd couple musically. It's a journey musically. It's an odd collection of backgrounds and voices and musical things and it's, I always pictured it having other voices besides ours as well. And, and the reason that we have so many guests, artists on it, on the record was because Juice and I discussed early on having, you know, this odyssey, this journey of musicality involving other, other feelings, other artists, other points of view. And so we, you know, it was a plan. It's not just, it's sort of done these days. Like everything is featuring somebody because it's good for, you know, from a marketing perspective. For us it was more of a creativity perspective. And I remember talking about it and Juice brought up the fact, and I wholeheartedly agree with this, that we needed to put people on who had similar voices. We need to put people on whose art we respect and whose voice we like. And we'd listen to any way. And that's, that's how this group of people sort of assembled.
Heather Newman: Yeah, well, that's like any journey and the Odyssey, you know the story from way back, you know, it's like you have your main characters and then it's weaved in and out of people come in and come out and all of that stuff. Right.
KJ: Which is the story of New York. It's the story of creativity. It's the story of me and Juice. It's the story of music in general. It has far reaching implications. So don't tell anybody that it started from Spinal Tap.
DJ Johnny Juice: I didn't know that either, until right now so
Heather Newman: Fair enough. So KJ, you sought out Juice? So tell me the exact kind of like how it happened. Like the, like the connection.
DJ Johnny Juice: We had sushi. No.
Heather Newman: I took a long walk in the park.
KJ: We held hands. The genesis of the project was me doing an EP. I was working with a famous audio engineer named Scott Hull from Masterdisk.
DJ Johnny Juice: The incredible Hull.
KJ: The Incredible Hull, who's worked with everybody; Sting and Jay Z and Metallica and Dave Matthews, everybody. So he was a friend way back when I was with a band called Cecilia on Atlantic Records a million years ago. We kept in touch over the years and eventually decided we wanted to do a project together. Long story short, it was going to be a five song EP. And I wanted, I wanted the, I heard, I wrote a song called "Incantation", and I heard scratching on it. And I had known Juice previously from a whole other lifetime and a whole other group of people that we, that we were with. And, you know, called him and asked him to scratch on the record and he very graciously agreed. But when he sent over the stuff, I didn't realize, you know, not having come from the hip hop background myself, I didn't realize the scope of what was possible with turntables. Juice is a turntablist in the most creative, artistic sense of the word. And, I expected scratching, you know, just scratching like, like what you think, scratching on a record would be.
Heather Newman: Wica-wica-wica
KJ: Exactly. And I got that. But I also got, I also got tracks full of what sounded to me like a chorus of voices, like synth with a bunch of reverb on it and he did something so unbelievably musical and, and you know, the "Incantation" is on Spotify right now. You can listen to it and you can hear what he did. So he has a scratch solo in the middle, which is what I originally asked for. And then I said, you know, if you're hearing something on the verse chorus, let me know. Don't let me know, just lay it down and send it over. I don't care. I trust you creatively. Even all the way back then I still did. And he sends back this symphony of sound. And I'm like, Holy Shit, this is, my mind is blown. I had no idea that this was possible. And that's what originally gave, you know, gave birth to the idea of, of us putting this thing together. I thought, you know, if that's, if he can do just that on the, on the hook of a song that I sent him, what could we do together on a whole record? What can we do together live? And that's how this happened.
Heather Newman: That's the spark. Yeah. And for you getting that song, cause lots of people you work with and you produce and you, you know, was there something about this specifically when you were working on it? Was it like, ah, okay, this is interesting. Or like for you, what was sort of the moment where you're like, ohh yeah?
DJ Johnny Juice: Well he sent me a bunch of songs. He said, you know, what do you think? I told him, ah, maybe two could use scratchin. I said, you know, as a producer I would say maybe two could possibly use it. The rest I think sound fine. You don't need it. That's my producer side. My DJ side is like, whatever, how much, how much you paying me, you know? I'll scratch anything you want, I don't care what it. But, I've become more discerning because it's not about the money to me. If it doesn't fit, I will let somebody know. I'm like, that's not, I wouldn't do that. You still want it fine. But you know, I always go into this producer mode for some reason, even when I'm not supposed to, which is good sometimes and it sucks other time. So I told him, you know what, I'll do, you know, I'll work on a couple of them, but I mean, I think these, I think it was two of them, "Incantation" and another one. I said, those I think could use some scratch and the rest I think are fine. You shouldn't touch them. He said, fine, whatever. So like he said, just do whatever you want. And, and I did. And, um, then he, he hit me back asking me about performance. Very specifically about your performance. So he goes, I want to go on the road, I want to do this kind of stuff. And then he was like, it was very specific, I want to do this, but I don't want a whole band and I want a guy that can kind of play the tracks. But not just DJ, you know, but kind of like, like really, you know, manipulate the songs live. And then at the same time I need a guy that could do scratching and then I need some guy that could possibly do synth work or something. And so I'm like, are you asking for a guy or are you asking for me? There's like three people in the United States that can do that right now, like effectively. And you know, and he's like, what do you think? And I'm like, well that sounds cool. And then he goes, you wouldn't happen to have any beats laying around would you? And I'm like, as a matter of fact, I do. I sent them the joints. That's, that kind of did it. I mean I was always digging his voice. It has this, it has this little edge of grit, but at the same time it's very smooth and kind of like, it's, it's like ethereal, it kind of floats, but it's not, but it's not like floaty in like a real corny way. It's kind of rooted in this dirt that you can hear underneath it and it's good. Even when his voice cracks, it cracks the right way. So I'm like, I can dig this, you know, you know, it's like a ghetto Sting kinda. But
KJ: Ghetto Sting. I like that. Alright I'll take that. I mean he was a big influence obviously. And you know, he's tall, skinny bass player in that sings.
Heather Newman: Yeah. Right.
DJ Johnny Juice: So, you know, I, I dug it. You know when I sent them, like I said, I sent them a couple of tracks, the first track I sent him and when he came back with what he came back with, I'm like, Yo, this is it man. So I sent him more I'm like, yeah, just keep writing, just keep writing. And he send me more stuff back and before you know it there's an album done. So,
KJ: You know what's funny, we were talking about relationships before and, and you know, Juice recounting this is sort of reminding me of a bunch of stuff. It jogged my memory about how this whole thing came about. And, you know, we were talking about how the creative, creative relationship is like any relationship, you know, you have to sort of trust and you have to have a little bit of a shared history and things in common, but enough differences so that it's edgy and interesting. And the process that Juice was just talking about is really like, you know, meeting, to a first date, to a first kiss, you know, to, you know, whatever. And, you know, the marriage is this, you know, we started a band and had a baby. This record is the baby, you know, and it's, it's really incredible how art imitates life like that.
DJ Johnny Juice: But we also love food. See
Heather Newman: Oh, oh, that's right.
KJ: We're both foodies.
DJ Johnny Juice: That was a huge factor here. Let's not, let's not discount the food factor.
KJ: And those were our dates. We went out to Sushi.
DJ Johnny Juice: We went to Indian. Yeah. And then
KJ: Juice taught me the most important culinary phrase on the planet. If you ain't sweating, you ain't eating. And I live by that.
DJ Johnny Juice: Right, I remember we had the vindaloo at Cordelain Curry House.
KJ: The vindaloo and I'm drenched in sweat.
DJ Johnny Juice: He's like, you've got to try this vindaloo Juice. I'm like, no doubt. So, and that's, and that's a good metaphor for the music also, you know, it's about the ingredients. Even though we both have a very similar base spice rack. We both have spices that the other ones don't have. We both are rooted in groove and jazz. I'm a big jazz head, a big jazz person. KJ is obviously well versed and trained in jazz, but my hip hop is rooted in the jazz mindset. And then of course hip hop itself is rooted in funk and soul and break beat type thing. So, you know, traditionally I'm a percussionist and a drummer, so my stuff is beat oriented, but you know, you gotta make it interesting, you know, and it kind of fills in the holes that KJ has and then KJ's stuff fills in the holes that I have. So it just works, you know, and sometimes you don't feel like asking why, you just let it work. You know why try to figure it out, it' working.
KJ: Why ask why.
Heather Newman: Absolutely. And for the listeners, so album is coming out soon and there's already tracks up on Spotify?
KJ: Yeah, there's two singles released on Spotify, "Incantation" and "Alone" and they both have videos on YouTube. So, you can just, you know, funny enough, and talking about SEO, Google and YouTube try to correct you and, and spell The Oddysy correctly. So you have to, you have to say, it assumes that you meant the odyssey like Odyssey, Odyssey, like the actual word. So you have to click on the thing that says no, I'm actually wanting to search for o d d y s y. But anyway, if you go on Google and YouTube, you can find, you can find the two videos and we're proud of those and we're getting ready, as soon as the records done and our director is free, Ato Essandoh, we have,
DJ Johnny Juice: "Trust in Me"
KJ: Yeah, we're going to do "Trust In Me" with DMC. We're going to do a trilogy of new videos.
DJ Johnny Juice: We're going to do a video for every song in the album.
KJ: That's the plan. Which is up to about what? 13, 15 songs?
DJ Johnny Juice: 15 songs.
KJ: 15 songs for him to do.
Heather Newman: Yeah. And I loved that first video shot in the subway. It's so, actually, well that was the second video. The one, was that here?
KJ: Uh, that was at Masterdisk, actually, Scott Hull, that was the song that started it all "Incantation" and Scott Hall produced that song. And we did it at Masterdisk studios with Scott. And that was the first time ,that was really the first time we ever played together.
Heather Newman: Wow, yeah. Superman sweater.
DJ Johnny Juice: Superman sweater and Batman
KJ: I did Batman.
DJ Johnny Juice: And it wasn't planned.
KJ: It wasn't planned at all.
Heather Newman: No way?
DJ Johnny Juice: Nope.
KJ: Nope. Nope.
DJ Johnny Juice: Showed up with a Superman sweater. He had the Batman stuff and I'm like, holy crap.
Heather Newman: Superhero Oddysy. Yeah. Well, and the other one that's shot in the subway. New York is sort of a part of both of you too. I loved seeing that in the videos.
KJ: That was Ato's idea. We shot it the Clinton-Washington stop with the G train, which is right near Ato's house. And, you know, the catalyst for that was this sort of endless, this endless vista that you get when you stand at one end of the station and it, it goes back to the, to the horizon line. So it covers two blocks, this thing. It's really incredible look at, and then, you know, the song, the song covers the idea that we're, you know, we're all together, but we're all alone, which is what I so love about New York City. You know, I'm a loner, but I feel more comfortable because I'm in and around 9 million people who also are loners. You know, I love that about this place. So Ato's idea was to get a bunch of his incredibly talented actor friends together and tell a visual story mostly with portraits, but in video form. And it just, it came out so, so beautifully. It's just, you know, I mean I give him all the credit and it was just a, you know, a visual masterpiece. As far as I'm concerned.
Heather Newman: I agree, so beautiful. Yeah. And so, in the show notes folks, I'll make sure and put in how to follow both of these lovely fellows. You're the Royal KJ, yes. And DJ Johnny Juice on Instagram and then Twitterattis and all of that kind of stuff. And the website and yeah, it's, and those of you who are my marketing people, you know, like this is some really beautiful music. Give it a listen because I think, I think it would be beautiful in some sort of fun commercial or movie. You know, like, it's so good.
DJ Johnny Juice: Yeah man.
KJ: We would love, we would love that. I would consider it an honor to be part of, you know, what is, it's such a part of modern media now having, you know, mixing music with, with the visual arts and, you know, advertising is, you know, and marketing has become an art form in and of itself because, you know, finding new ways into people's consciousness. And I would love to have our music as part of part of a, you know, a part of something that's, you know, done well directed well.
DJ Johnny Juice: Almost all the music I composed was specifically aimed towards that. To be honest with you, I've done a lot of film scoring lately and I've had my music in a lot of commercials and trailers and I kind of write that way now. You know, I, it's kind of like, it has this grandiose feeling, even the simple stuff and mates well with visual imagery. And I don't think I do it purposely in the sense where I'm like, this needs to be in a commercial, but I do it naturally because we're visual creatures. We see things. And everything I see looks like music. I'm like Neo in the Matrix, when he finally becomes aware and then everything becomes these numbers that he can see, all of a sudden. I see the world like that. I see the world and I see it in music. I see the vibrations coming at me. That's why New York is impossible to replicate anywhere else. There's nothing like it because New York is a city where you, when you walk out it speaks to you in different ways. Not just, oh, that's nice. Statue of Liberty, that's nice. It's not even that. It's even the mundane things. Like a little grate that a cab drives over and create this rhythm of ja-jack-a-dun-dun, ja-jack-a-dun-dun. It all does something to me at least, and when I do that musically, I see that in movies, I see it in the scene. You know, "Remain", I see as a very somber part of something, you know, some kind of visual imagery where, you know, somebody's leaving or somebody coming or somebody's trying to figure out if they want to stay or not. You know, I see those things and I think it mates very well, you know, so hopefully somebody picks something up and puts it somewhere and not necessarily because I want to get rich because, you know, who wants that?
KJ: I want that. I would just like to put it out there, I want that.
DJ Johnny Juice: But you know, I want a lot of people to hear this. This year long or even a little longer collaboration is the longest I've ever taken to do an album, ever.
KJ: And what you hear at the end is love and truth and real stories. And I think that's increasingly rare in this day and age of, you know, sort of plastic, tailor made art. And there's, there's a lot of that, there's a lot of wonderful stuff out there too, but there's a lot of, there's a lot of
DJ Johnny Juice: Manufactured.
KJ: Yeah, exactly. So I'd like people to know that we didn't manufacture this on purpose. We said something that we needed to say.
Heather Newman: Yeah. Well, it' deep and positive. And there's a lot of music out there right now that's whiny. You know? It's like the whiny dudes.
KJ: I agree
Heather Newman: And I'm just like, shut up.
DJ Johnny Juice: You bitch. Actually, we slit our wrists open and this is what came out. I'm talking about figuratively obviously. But that's what it feels like, you know? When I hear this stuff and it actually makes me feel a lot of things that I've necessarily haven't felt in other projects. I've done albums in a whole weekend and I'm talking about good outcomes in a weekend, not like some, you know, some disposable crap. And this right here, it was like the toughest thing to put together because you know, it was literally a piece of me, you know? And I feel the same thing in KJ. So, you know, we hope that people identify with it.
KJ: Yeah, identify and connect and find themselves in these stories because they are about everybody. They're about us, but they're also about everyone.
DJ Johnny Juice: Right.
Heather Newman: Yeah. That's why I have enjoyed them so much. Storytelling, you know? It's so great. Absolutely. Well, cool. Well, I think New York City beckons and you know, it's like, I love that you can sit here and just listen to our little symphony happening around us anywhere here in this city. I know there's just nothing like it.
KJ: Nothing like it in the whole world as far as I'm concerned.
Heather Newman: I agree. So yeah,
DJ Johnny Juice: Except you can't buy weed here in an app.
KJ: What the fuck? Can NYC get on that already please? Because I'm heading back to California.
Heather Newman: And on that note.
KJ: You guys know how to live.
Heather Newman: We do okay out there, that's for sure. Yeah, for sure. Well, awesome. Well, so yeah, we're coming to you from the East Village here in Manhattan in New York City and fellows, always a pleasure and it was such a pleasure to see you live. And folks again, we'll put everything up on how to find The Oddysy and the new album is coming soon and there's beautiful videos up and amazing storytelling in their songs. So guys, thank you so much.
KJ: Thank you so much Heather. It was a pleasure as always.
DJ Johnny Juice: No doubt. Ye-ahh!
Speaker 5: there's the dichotomy.
Heather Newman: Yeah, completely. So, everybody, you know, as per usual, you can find the Mavens Do It Better podcast up on iTunes. It's also up on Spotify. We're on Stitcher, we're on Google play. We're on all of the normal places and on Instagram, Twitter and all that. And the Mavensdoitbetter.com website. So, another beautiful day on this big blue spinning sphere.
KJ: Yes, sir. Yes ma’am.
Heather Newman: Yes all! Alright.