Nofrendo on being funkier than a mosquito's tweeter and taking listeners on a journey through sound
Nofrendo (aka Joseph Meezy) is the beat making equivalent of Nina Simone. Built on his love for soul and all things raw and gritty, his production style begets welcoming anachronistic melodies. Quite different from the sped up soul sample moves of many producers, he takes the properties of a record and changes the make-up.
Like an alchemist, Nofrendo takes the blueprint of a simple element, and with many interchanges and loops, produces a completely different entity. He recently started Chops Records, a label designed to showcase and enhance the creative happenings of the instrumentally inclined. We recently chopped it up with Nofrendo about why he's "Funkier than a Mosquito's Tweeter," his love for the ladies and much more.
Westword (Ru Johnson): What is it about how you grew up that made you fall in love with music?
Nofrendo: My dad was a professor of music, and always played piano and organ in the church. He's always encouraged me to experiment with sound since I was real little. I loved making up weird noises with my mouth and singing. I was hooked on sound, so he taught me how to read music and play piano, which was my first instrument. I didn't stick with it that long, but used my ability to read music to learn other instruments like French horn, flute and saxophone. I later picked piano back up and learned turntabalism, sampling, electronic music production, drums and bass.
Ww: You usually purchase all of your music on wax. How does that change the dynamic of what you're exposed to?
N: It broadens my musical horizons way beyond that of people who only listen to radio and MP3s. A ton of old recordings are only on vinyl. What I listen to on wax is from another era where wax was the king of the audio recording formats. More and more modern artists are releasing these days on wax, to kind of feed off the energy from that era. Vinyl is my tangible human link to the art of recorded sounds in our history. Diggers like me will expose themselves to almost any kind of music to find that sample that no one's fucked with.
Ww: What are your thoughts on female MCs and their importance in the game?
N: Sexy thoughts. I love women who can sing and flow like Erykah Badu, Lauryn Hill or Jill Scott, and now, Janelle Monae, too -- ooooowee! I probably listen to more females than males, these days. I think anyone would agree that females make anything better, nine times out of ten. We need females like we need the earth. They are the mothers of our children, our sisters, nieces and aunts. The provide us with an energy that can't be substituted and we wouldn't be here without 'em.
Ww: How do you build your beat structures?
N: I think of my songs like stories and try to take the listener on a journey through sound with each of my songs. I'm pretty melodic with a lot of my beats, so I'll find a sample of a melody, or pound one out on the piano, then work on playing a rhythm, or find a good break that fits it. After, I make a few loops, I'll arrange them so they rise and fall. I like shit that drops hard. I like to try new approaches to writing almost every time now.
Ww: What's up with Chops Records?
N: "We Make Music," that's what Chops Records is all about. Chops Records is the label that I've started for releasing music of the musicians with the highest skills in audio fidelity. Ever since I started deejaying and producing music, I dreamed of pressing my own wax. I have two artists signed right now: A phenomenal up and coming trumpet player named J.Reed, and real young cat with a whole lot of soul named Nicolai, who is an extremely talented multi-instrumentalist and songwriter.
Ww: What is your favorite instrument?
N: The Fender Rhodes Electric Piano. It was the first electro-acoustic portable piano, and it changed the face of music. Almost every great soul, R&B and funk tune written has a Rhodes in it. Deep dirty bass registers and super bright high tones made it a staple in modern music. My biggest influences, that I love to listen to, who play it, are Stevie Wonder, Ramsey Lewis and Gil Scott Heron. I've been playing one since I was in diapers, and will always love it.
Ww: What's your favorite beat composition?
N: The Human Condition from Ming & FS' album of the same name on Om Records is the rawest track I've ever heard, as far as beats go. It's more of a turntable composition. I listened to that joint so many times, just tripping on how it progresses, with all the sampled elements they use, and how it change tempos and rhythms. It's ridiculous.
Ww: Who is your favorite local rapper?
N: I'd have to say Whygee is whom I listen to the most. I knew him from West Middle School in Aurora, when we used to draw comic books in math class together. I didn't know he rapped until after he dropped Suicide Watch with Sunkenstate, produced by Kid Hum. He's got an amazing way with words and phrasing in his raps that are unmatched. He's been a huge inspiration for me getting back in the game myself. I try and listen to his advice more than his raps though; he's a wise dude.
Ww: What are the latest Nofrendo haps?
N: I'm busier than ever right now. I've been working with Chops Records recording artist J.Reed on an EP called Rhode to Heaven, to showcase his amazing trumpet playing abilities, which is slated for a late summer early fall release. We are also in pre-production stages with End Fallow Media for shooting a video for the first single called "Bonin' Out." Kid Hum and I are teaming up as KidFrendo for a beat tape that's already in the works. I'm also working on a dance mixtape to get peoples ass moving on the dance floor the way they should.