The Rochester Insomniac caught up with MDot Coop to talk about collaborations, foreign affairs, and what makes a city great.
Ben – Tell us what’s new man, what have you been up to at the close of 15/start of 16?
MDot – Finishing out the year strong, the ‘Let’s Be Friends’ party has definitely been a success, been doing that since last February. Been focused on that and this EP.
Has “Lets Be Friends” been happening exclusively at Skylark?
No, we did the first one at Skylark, and we had been doing’ some consecutive events there. When we finally came up with the name Lets Be Friends, that’s when we started to bounce it around to other clubs. Trying’ to keep the spots eclectic and rotate it a little bit.
Let’s Be Friends is you and Tim Tones, do you have specific guests come in or is it a free form event hosted by you and Tones?
We definitely do, I feel that having guests promotes the whole vibe and the moniker of Lets Be Friends. In the past we had Danielle Ponder guest host at Taje, among others, Taje is a small lounge/wine bar on State Street.
Is Lets Be Friends a continuation of the open mic that used to happen here at Javas?
That was really Chuck and Dunny who did that ‘Discos Lobos’ back in the day. This is its own entity, you know we’ve always thrown parties and done stuff whether it have been a continuation or just intermittent things. We decided to start Lets Be Friends and make it a monthly. We struggled for a bit trying to come up with a name and finally we said lets just make it something that is relatable and fun and it can just be THAT.
Are you big on the street promotions and the ‘hand to hand combat’ style exposure?
Oh yeah I love that. I don’t have as much time as I maybe have had in the past, but you know Tones and I, we still hang posters for every party. I love the grassroots promotion, that’s the wave you know. I feel like on a broader scale it’s getting back to that personally reaching out and touching people, cause you know anybody can make a Facebook invite but it’s a lot more clever when you see the poster in the street and you don’t have anything attached to it, it just says Let Be Friends or you know just real minimal with a date and a time. I love that.
Have you had any trouble booking your event due to the recent climate of hip-hop and the attitude that many bars have towards the genre?
No, we haven’t had any trouble booking. It’s funny, I was recently asked this question and I haven’t really felt that, its generally just that we can’t come to some sort of agreement as far as terms but it’s not because of what or who were bringing. If you don’t want to be affiliated with something called “Lets Be Friends” that’s just weird because it’s an all encompassing thing that doesn’t have a negative connotation. The name itself promotes a vibe that all different types of people want to be a part of.
How long have you been working with Tim Tones?
Oh gawd. So we met skateboarding through the Krudco scene and just downtown, when I was like 13 and he was like 15, so he had a couple years on me and we’ve just been friends ever since. That’s my homie, you know we argue, take trips, perform together, that’s my partner and we do business together and yeah, that’s the dude.
How far have you guys taken it on the road?
Mostly regional, as far as New Jersey/Atlantic City area. With us trying to grow things through the grassroots it is what it is and it’s been good.
How big has skateboarding been for you?
Skateboarding is everything, I spent so much time doing it that I feel that most of the discipline I have is from skateboarding. Committing yourself to learning a trick or getting a line down you know, some of the relationships in music that I have, Hassan Mackey, Tim Tones, and others in the past, my man Dialo. I owe a lot of that to skateboarding.
Were you involved with the Roc City Park Efforts?
I was yeah. I sat on the board for a while with Aaron Costa and some of the other folks. I wish that could have turned out better, the vision was all there. I guess now they’re doing something at RASP which is cool, at least it’s still something. I think that vision was pretty amazing, an interesting way to utilize a public space in an unusual way, but still have it functional and accessible to everybody. It was a very progressive idea and Rochester’s not always the most progressive place. Maybe just needs a few years.
What are your thoughts on the city as a whole, as a place to live and work and grow?
I was born and raised here, spent some time elsewhere but made my way back. I think it’s a cool place to live, the city has it’s issues that’s for sure, it’s gonna be interesting to see how the downtown changes are going to shake out. I feel like sometimes Rochester doesn’t take advantage of the resources that we do have, and we build new stuff that’s not even appealing aesthetically, but all in all its on the up and up. You’re starting to see a lot of the artistic side, everything from like artisan bakeries and free range butches to the budding music scene, people from every genre are represented and making noise, doing their thing. I think on the reverse side of that, Rochester has a lot of issues, there’s a big gap between the classes here, which is something that you see in every city, but it’s smaller here and that makes it more prevalent. That’s one of the reasons we started Lets Be Friends, if anything you take good music and good people and put them together and help to quell some of the misconceptions and stigmas that people have about each other and make a more diverse environment. All that said, I like Rochester.
What have you got planned for 2016?
2016 I’m gonna have a new EP its gonna be called ‘Finally I Can Vibe’, just working on wrapping that up. The audio is pretty much done, although there are a few more tunes I want to do and getting the concept to back it up in place. Looking’ to drop that in the early part of 2016, sometime in the spring.
Who’s collaborating with you on it?
I’m working with a bunch of my good friends on that one. My man KB is on there, my man K’za K’Lee is on it, a few other people. I’m hoping to get this dude TRT Music from London on there, I’ve still got a couple more joints to do on it. Got a couple videos in the can.
How did you meet TRT Music?
Soundcloud, Hahahaha. I heard something that he did with this dude Ledge Kale and I just fell in love with it. This is dope, I gotta do something on this, and it was something’ that they randomly had up for download. I did my one two on it, recorded it the same day pretty much on the spot, took it to my boy Paul to mix down and I played it for a couple people but that was it. I left it alone but I really wanted to release this, do something with this so I hit those dudes up and told them I was really feeling’ this tune, fell in love with this joint and TRT gave me the blessing to run with it and that was that. The tune is called “Great Taste” and it’s the one single I’m kinda pushing’ right now. Gonna push a few songs, get the coals out before we release this EP, so there will be a few more singles before I drop Finally I Can Vibe.
Where can we find those singles?
Most of them are going to be on Soundcloud, I’ll be doing digital stuff with the singles and when the EP comes out you’ll be able to get that digitally and physically through the website, try to drive people there for my updates.
You’ve been on a few tracks with others, probably had a few mix tapes tracks, but as far as cuts that you’ve released under MDot Coop?
To date I have… I have four projects that are done. One Mix tape, One Full Length, and then there’s two EPs.
The newest EP is the Midtown cut with Coach Parsells?
Yeah and that was a bit ago, if you count the two projects I did with Coach Parsells that would make five but those were a full on collaborative effort. We share the same birthday so we would get together every year and start it off as a single and turn it into something a little bit bigger, that one is called Tina. Tina Marie, she’s actually a Pisces as well so when we decided to put that project out that year, in 2014, we decided we gotta make it a real Piscean type of thing you know.
Audio Influx is the full live band that you were a part of. How many records did that group put out?
We had two records; one is self-titled and the second one is called Here Comes the Audio. The first one I’m featured on but I wasn’t a member of the band then, you know I played shows with them and would be on stage with them here and there. Eventually I got solidified as a full time member of the band and that’s when we cut ‘Here Comes The Audio’.
If you had to pick between working with a DJ on stage vs. working with a full band on stage, which would you prefer?
I’d prefer both! Hahaha, I’d prefer all of it! I was telling Tones the other day my ideal scenario would be like a two or three piece, bass drums keys/bass drums guitar and a DJ. That would be my ideal scenario.
What would you say was the biggest event you’ve done to date? Something that made you stop and think “Wow I can’t even believe I’m doing this?
Party In The Park was pretty big a few years back, there’s always a ton of people. Some of the Red Bull events we’ve done in the past have been crazy. We’ve done a few shows at the resort out in buffalo during the winter. The festivals we’ve played with audio influx, but probably the biggest to date was party in the park.
Who are you listening to right now that’s on the Rochester scene?
Ooohhhh locally, IamTruStarr, that’s my bro he makes awesome music. My man K’za K’Lee, my man Ishmael Raps, Danielle Ponder she’s amazing. I like suburban plaza a lot, they’re an up and coming band, I wanna hear some music from the band Homeless, they just did a show with Cammy Enaharo, Moses Rockwell, and K’za K’Lee and they did some really cool stuff with just the three piece, keys upright and drums that was pretty awesome. I really like Green Dreams they’re really cool, I’ve’ been familiar with their stuff for a while. I really like Cammy Enaharo, she’s really cool and makes some awesome music, very unique you know, there’s not a lot of singer songwriters playing a ukulele and that’s fire, it’s not just some gimmicky thing you know she crushes it, I appreciate what she does whole heartedly. There used to be a huge jazz scene in Rochester and a really big soul scene back in the fifties and sixties, so I try to seek that type of stuff out when I can.
What are your thoughts on Conscious or, thoughtful content vs. less than thoughtful content?
I think there’s a time and place, you know when I go out I’m not necessarily trying to hear the most thoughtful music, I’m just trying to hear some music that’s gonna make me wanna dance and forget about the week. As far as my art is concerned, I definitely try and say something and try to convey a message. I’m real into the fundamental struggle, you know I stand “here” but sometimes I do things to contradict that, and just documenting that. We all have those kinds of struggles and I like to make party tunes and tunes that are just like, whatever you know. I’m not trying to always convey this deep message, but then sometimes that’s the mood or the vibe of a song. I hate to see it so one sided in the media or on the radio but that’s when you go a little left and you find something that’s more inline with what you feel and what your about.