Q&A: Le1f Talks The Influence Of Ballroom And Working With Das Racist, Spank Rock, And Nguzunguzu

Over the past few months, Le1f—a rapper and producer who wrote his undergraduate thesis on "Subversion in Post-WWII Performance"—has been an increasingly unavoidable presence in and around the city, playing alongside everyone from Greedhead labelmate Big Baby Gandhi to London trap-rave producer Girl Unit. Meanwhile, his Dark York mixtape proved worth the wait, offering 21 tracks that capture much of what is exciting about the sound of post-Ghe20 Goth1k New York.

In advance of tonight's show (with GG's Venus X) at Littlefield, we talked about working with artists like Spank Rock and Nguzunguzu, the problem with being over-associated with ballroom, and the subjects of that thesis.

Starting off with the basics, are you from New York?

Yes, I'm a native—I'm from Manhattan... I was raised in Hell's Kitchen and now live in the Upper West Side.

When you got to Wesleyan, how did you link up with Heems and Victor of Das Racist?

I actually knew them from the summer before I went to college. There was a guy J-La, another friend of theirs who went to Wesleyan who was DJing for me in New York at the time, and Himanshu was his roommate so I ended up hanging out with them the summer before college.

And how did you come to produce "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell"?

I was hanging out, crashing on their couch, and Himanshu said he wanted to start this new project, so I just gave him a ton of beats and they recorded a bunch of scrapped things over some of them. And that was one of them.

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This Weekend In New York: Nobunny Thrashes, Girls Look Back, And Spank Rock Warms Up To Le Bain


In Waste Of Paint, our writer/artist team of Jamie Peck and Debbie Allen will review goings-on about town in words and images.

After the mildly terrifying journey that was Fashion's Night Out, Debbie and I wanted to return to more familiar territory, which for us means the holy trinity of punk, indie rock, and hip hop. Luckily, one of our favorite artists from each of those genres was playing this weekend, and none of them disappointed.

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2010: The Year In Music Photos

The year in music, circa 2010, started at the Cake Shop, with a shred-down to the New Year courtesy of Siren Festival MVP-to-be Marissa Paternoster and her band Screaming Females. After a tour through the NYE fetes of the Lower East Side and Williamsburg, that night ended amidst a marathon show at Bushwick's Shea Stadium, right around the time the Blastoids' drummer poured paint on his kit and started splattering away.

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Damon Dash's Under 100 Lives! Erykah Badu Was There Friday, Before Playing Good Units on Saturday

Under 100, still the most secret and ridiculous rock club in NYC. Photo by Rebecca Smeyne
Alright. Let the record show that for once in our miserable, venue-destroying lives, we kept a secret show secret, sending house photographer Rebecca Smeyne to Friday's hush-hush Under 100-hosted prequel to Saturday's loudly-promoted Erykah Badu release party (where, intrepid photog that she is, Smeyne also managed to surface), and not saying word one about it in public until the show was safely in Dame Dash and the gang's collective rearview mirror. Compassion? Getting soft in our old age? Who knows. It would've been a shame for them to have painted this fancy new mural on the back wall, only to have to cancel the damn thing again:

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A Place To Bury Strangers, Thee Oh Sees, Tiny Masters of Today Added to This Year's Siren Festival

From last year's Siren Fest

Hey! Siren Festival! Coney Island! Free concert! Thrown by this paper! All-ages! Nine hours long! Hot dogs! (Not free!) Bands! (Which are!) Beach! Sand! Skeeball! (Rain or) Shine! Naked people! Oysters! Rollercoaster! Motion sickness! Enthusiasm! Exclamation points! New additions: A Place to Bury Strangers, Thee Oh Sees, Tiny Masters of Today, Justine D. and and DeadHeat DJs! Also an after-party! With Francis and the Lights and Gordon Voidwell!

Yeah, that made us tired too. Peruse the official press release below, which uses all-caps instead of exclamatory statements and reminds you of all the previously announced performers like Built To Spill, Spank Rock, Grand Duchy (i.e. Frank Black), Micachu & the Shapes, Japandroids, Monotonix, Frightened Rabbit who will be serenading you that day. Go or be lame.

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More Siren Festival Additions: Spank Rock, Japandroids, Future of the Left, and More


Real simple: more Siren Festival announcements. As always, it'll be free, all ages, and rain or shine, will take place on Saturday, July 18 and likely involve genitalia raps. Details below.

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Photos: Spank Rock and Japanther at Bodega


Spank Rock, Japanther
Wednesday, February 11
photos by Rebecca Smeyne

Whatever you did on Wednesday night probably wasn't as raucous as Spank Rock's "secret" set with Japanther at Bushwick space Bodega. Highlights included the crowd-surfing lady with a Budweiser leotard and polka-dotted high heels, Japanther's shirtless drummer, and Naeem Juwan in a tie. Also note: the guy who looks like a Reservoir Dog leaping off a speaker. And you were home watching American Idol?



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Spank Rock Wild Style No Show Theory: "Charity Rate" Not Worth Getting Out of Bed?

Sound of the City roots for the home team and so does Impose Magazine's Jeremy Krinsley

Amazing Baby, "Pump Your Brakes"

I saw this first as an advertisement on subway walls, and it is probably the last format in which I will see it, but Elvis Costello has a show, and he's now announcing his prestigious guest list.

Amazing Baby are following the trail MGMT took to indie stardom—certainly helps that guitarist Simon O'Connor was reportedly in an old "porn-rock" Wesleyan band called Misogynistic Pineapple with Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden of MGMT. (I will not say MGMT band neccessarily blazed anything besides the interior of a few tour vans). That said, they're on Vampire Weekend's brutal six-month buzz regimen to get there. They recorded a video a few blocks from the Voice office last week, and they also hung out with our camera after a long night of polaroids and Xanax.

Speaking of the Vampire Weekend. They played the Woodies with fellow Columbia alum Dave P from Chromeo. That said, this coming weekend will belong to a different vampire, at least within the vital 13-16-year-old-girl demographic.

Speaking of Paul Simon. Earlier in the year, the progenitor of white dudes diggin' Afro pop attempted to prove he was still alive and relevant by enlisting everyone but Vampire Weekend for a series of shows at BAM. In my opinion, his efforts this week were much more effective in reaching that vital 18-28 year old dude-with-bong demographic when he allowed himself to be the butt of one of those feuds-with-lefty Stephen Colbert loves to cook up.

The party to celebrate the screening of classic docu-flick Wild Style at Film Forum went down, sans headliner Spank Rock. A strong theory is floated to explain the no-show.

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Spank Rock No Show at Wild Style Party

photo of no Spank Rock by Rebecca Smeyne

Pretty sure Sleep When Dead dude Joe Ahearn, son of Wild Style director Charlie Ahearn, who also co-signed last night's show, isn't to blame for this one, but it sucks all around. Last night, at the Danbro Studios Warehouse Wild Style throwdown, headliner Spank Rock didn't show up--and it wasn't announced until 1:30 that he wasn't coming. From the inbox, "There were hundreds of people who paid 10 bucks for Spank Rock and waited around all night! Lame!"

Update: Apparently it was Charlie Ahearn himself who made the announcement and said something to the effect of, "I talked to Spank Rock earlier this evening and we were both excited for tonight, but only one of us showed up." Boo Naeem.

Photos: Spank Rock, Amanda Blank at the Annex

Chuck Inglish of the Cool Kids gets a kiss. Tons more photos from the Annex here.

Spank Rock
The Annex
Wednesday, October 22
photos by Nate "Igor" Smith

Spank Rock was the surprise guest at the Fully Fitted CMJ showcase, a line-up that included such members of Spank's crew as Amanda Blank, Pase Rock, Eli Escobar. The Cool Kids' Chuck Inglish showed up, along with a retinue of speckled, furred and spectacled downtown kids who flocked in for the party, and the party pictures.

Spank Rock

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