The Kickstarter Blog

A Visit from Julia Nunes

  1. Greg Ruth's 52 Weeks Project Arrives

    As a working artist, Greg Ruth realized that spending all your time doing work for other people can end up making it nearly impossible to create work for yourself. To remedy this, he devised a clever way of playing hooky from "real work," and thus was born The 52 Weeks Project. Greg challenged himself to create a new illustration each week, just for the heck of it. Now, thanks to an outpouring of support from friends, fans, and followers, his side project gets to take center stage. The finished book, which we received in the mail this week, contains a body of drawings that are wildly unrestrained, taking you deep into the hidden chambers of Greg's imagination. It is at once intimate, glorious, and liberating to flip through the pages of the book. 

    Accompanying the book was a personal letter of thanks from Greg:

    The book itself is filled with curious and bizarre images, part illustrated stream-of-consciousness and part waking dream. Insect humanoids, giant bears, samurai, and anthropomorphism abound (Totoro even makes an appearance!):

    I wish I could show you every single page, because it's truly a remarkable thing to behold. As Greg reminds us in his thank you letter, "...any act of art is meaningless without someone to witness it." Here's hoping Greg continues to distract himself from real work, because I'm ready for another 52 weeks. 

  2. Get the Funk Out: Dissecting the Funklet

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    Housed inside a lovely red-plastic check book-esque binding, The Funklet is a beat-by-beat breakdown of 20 breaks so classic they are probably living deep in your subconscious. You groove to them. You jive to them. But, you may not know who played them, or how the rhythms not only created a dope track, but also laid the foundation for future funk, hip-hop, house, break-beat and a myriad of genre's that revolve around the use of samplers/samples. Through a series of notated breaks, creator Jack Stratton unravels the mysteries of the world's most intriguing beats in a style so simple and visually enticing it almost makes you think, "Hmm, maybe I could do this?" 

    How to breakdown the Funklet notations
    How to breakdown the Funklet notations

    There is a reason James Brown has been dubbed the Godfather of Soul. He could probably also be called The King of Funk. Either way, a book about funk without numerous references to JB would be, well, let's just say you probably wouldn't have funded it. No surprise then that Funklet kicks off with a few pages devoted to some of the Godfather of Soul's most classic jams; "I Got The Feelin'" and "Mother Popcorn," both of which feature the one-and-only Clyde Stubblefield on drums. Stubblefield in particular has probably played on more records than he's even aware of thanks to sampling technology, a subject explored thoroughly in Copyright Criminals, a documentary investigating how decades worth of producers have sampled and reconfigured his beats in order to make a myriad of chart busters. 

    Notation for Clyde Stubblefield's beat on James Brown's "Mother Popcorn"
    Notation for Clyde Stubblefield's beat on James Brown's "Mother Popcorn"

    While Stubblefield was the backbone of the JBs for a long time, he wasn't the only one to drive the funk machine through town. Equally as stone cold funky, Jabo Starks held down the kit for James Brown's band for years, providing such classic beats as "Get Up (I Feel Like Being A) Sex Machine," a tune created after Brown sacked the band, save for Jabo, and brought in the teenage Collins brothers — Bootsy and Catfish. The combination was, to say the least, epic. So much so that it's been sampled by a LOT of people.

    Notation for Jabo Starks beat on James Brown's "Get Up (I Feel Like A) Sex Machine"
    Notation for Jabo Starks beat on James Brown's "Get Up (I Feel Like A) Sex Machine"

    Pioneers of New Orlean's funk, the Meters have long been pillars of funk greatness. While the guitar licks on the classic "Cissy Strut" have that certain quality that makes you walk like an Egyptian, it's Zigaboo Modeliste's the kick-snare combo that really pushes "Cissy Strut" in the upper eschelion of pure grooves. As Jack Stratton notes, the tune is exceptional and often noted for the fact that, "Zigaboo used two hands on the hat when recording 'Cissy Strut.' Among drummers, that factoid is becoming as ubiquitous as 'White Christ- mas’ was written by a Jew!'" The break, in particular, has become so uniquitous that sampling directory notes that there are at least 12 present day songs which sampled it, including the Jackson 5's "ABC", Naughty By Nature's "OPP" and Girl Talk, who sampled the song on two different records.

    Notation for The Meters "Cissy Strut" Drums by Zigaboo Modeliste
    Notation for The Meters "Cissy Strut" Drums by Zigaboo Modeliste

    I could go on and on dissecting the beats in the Funklet and trying to pick out which classic hip-hop and pop songs co-opted individual beats into chart toppers, but that wouldn't be much fun for anyone. Funklet creator Jack Stratton feels the same, noting in his introduction that, "I could write a lengthy essay on the seemingly parallel rise of linear funk grooves and cryptic condom-usage lyrics in the mid-seventies. But that’s a whole other Kickstarter." Looking forward to that, Jack!

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