The Cedaa Interview

Amid the Evergreen trees and towering mountains of the Pacific Northwest, an emerging bass music music scene has spread its roots. From the experimental, earthy sounds of Dropping Gems (check out our interview with Aaron Meola and DJAO here) to the space age riddims of Ill Cosby’s Car Crash Set, the Northwest is quickly becoming a breeding ground for forward thinking electronic music. Simon Ho aka Cedaa is spearheading that movement. With a spot on Kingdom’s prodigious Fade To Mind label, Cedaa has melded the worlds of Chicago juke and Southern hip hop with effortless aplom. We spoke with Ho this past week in Seattle to find out more about his background as a drummer, favorite live experiences and faulty press sheets. The 21 year old is one of the rising forces in the West Coast’s distinct brand of club music and is pushing the proverbial bass music envelope in exciting, new directions. Hit the jump to catch the full interview.

Amid the Evergreen trees and towering mountains of the Pacific Northwest, an emerging bass music music scene has spread its roots. From the experimental, earthy sounds of Dropping Gems (check out our interview with Aaron Meola and DJAO here) to the space age riddims of Ill Cosby’s Car Crash Set, the Northwest is quickly becoming a breeding ground for forward thinking electronic music. Simon Ho aka Cedaa is spearheading that movement. With a spot on Kingdom’s prodigious Fade To Mind label, Cedaa has melded the worlds of Chicago juke and Southern hip hop with effortless aplom. We spoke with Ho this past week in Seattle to find out more about his background as a drummer, favorite live experiences and faulty press sheets. The 21 year old is one of the rising forces in the West Coast’s distinct brand of club music and is pushing the proverbial bass music envelope in exciting, new directions. Hit the jump to catch the full interview.

First off, introduce yourself to our readers.

I am Simon Ho, aka Cedaa. I am 21 years old, and grew up in the Seattle area suburbs. I got into music via percussion and drumline, and did drumline in the marching band throughout my high school years. I had messed around a little bit with electronic music, using a DAW in high school, but really it was the move to college, being in a dorm room and not having a drum set that pushed me to make more music on the computer, because I wanted to be creative and mess with shit but I didn’t have like space or the ability to play really loudly.

How has your experience as a drummer led to your current work?

The rhythmic focus of some of my music definitely speaks to my drumming past. Drumline has tonal bass drum parts, which in my mind are pretty similar to tonal 808 parts, so I already thought of low end in that way.

Do you still use the same copy of Reason 2.5 that your dad gave you back in the day?

[Laughs] No, I don’t. Unfortunately, that has followed me around in press releases after the point I stopped using it. I did up until a year ago, but now I’m using Reason 6, which is great. But yeah, I didn’t want to change for a long time and I know a fair number of people who are like that who use really old versions of programs that might not be the new cutting edge, not en vogue. My homie Astronomar uses Sony Acid Pro 7, which is almost equally as old as that version of Reason. I don’t know anyone else who uses that shit, but he swears by it, because it’s what he learned on. It’s funny though, because there are a few bits of information like the Reason 2.5 thing that follow me around. In this one press release or article, I can’t remember what it’s from; they took a really long quote from me about my influences. In it, I said my friend’s older sister listened to a lot of R&B and that’s how I got into R&B when I was little. Somehow they switched that to my older sister listened to a lot of R&B so in all these press releases…

Do you have an older sister?

I don’t have a sister at all! In all these press releases, it’s like “his big influence was his sister’s R&B love”, but people who know me look at that and are like, “did you lie to them and say you have a sister or some bullshit?”

So you use Reason 6 to produce. What do you use live?

I DJ live. CDJ’s and a mixer.

How did you initially get into juke?

In late 2008, my friend had this mixtape from this local guy Jimmy Hoffa. I think he stills makes music and DJ’s around, but I’m not really sure what he’s doing. It was like a juke/ghettotech tape that we would just always listen to when we were running around or smoking or whatever. I didn’t even know what kind of music it was, or what it was about, or the history or anything, but it was really raw and unlike anything I had ever heard. A while down the road, I found some more of that same kind of music on the internet, but it was more ghettotech as opposed to juke or footwork. Guys like DJ Deeon and ghetto house type of shit. And then I randomly started talking to this guy, Dave Quam, who runs this (now defunct) blog called It’s After The End Of The World and he got me into a lot of the stuff I started listening to and told me all about the scene and its history. His writing was really influential in terms of juke’s increase in popularity. He’s making music now, actually, under the alias Massacooramaan. Really amazing sound. His debut EP is FADE004.

 

How did you originally get involved with Fade To Mind? Did you know Kingdom before?

I never met Kingdom IRL before we made the agreement that I would be on the label. A while back, he asked me for some tracks, because he had seen one of mine in Girl Unit’s XLR8R mix, and we just started trading tracks back and forth. Then when he wanted to start the label, he just wanted to have me involved. We’ve met since then, he came to my show last week in New York.

How was that?

It went really well. It was the second time I played there, and it was definitely better. Not that the first one wasn’t good, but I played with Myrryrs from Body High this time. I hadn’t met him before, but I had talked to him online a good bit and it was good to finally meet him. We did the Noise212 thing as well with the Ustream and all that.

Fade To Mind is built as a club label. Do you consider your music “club music”?

Uhhh, it depends. Some of the newer stuff I’m making I would definitely consider club music, but I don’t think all of my music is. My “Tiffany” single/first release isn’t club music. It’s definitely informed by club music, but it’s a little bit removed probably. I don’t think I would play that in the club unless it was a little more of an introspective, free-form set. But I do think pretty much all of my stuff is informed by some type of club music, whether it be juke, Jersey/Philly/Baltimore club, hip-hop beats, etc.

Your music has a pretty large hip-hop influence, in the samples you use and in your general sound. The Northwest has its own localized hip-hop scene that your music doesn’t really draw too much from. Who are some of your favorite hip-hop artists, in the Northwest or elsewhere?

It’s hard to say. A lot of the hip-hop stuff that I sample is stuff that I grew up with. Missy Elliot and Timbaland. Classic late 90’s, early 2000’s era hip-hop and R&B. I really like what guys in Seattle are doing, I respect it and support, but it’s not where I’m coming from at all. I know in interviews, they talk about reinterpreting hip-hop in a Northwest way and I can’t really connect to their interpretation. I appreciate their vision though. I used to like conscious backpack hip-hop when I was 13 or 14 and I guess I just listened to too much of it or something. Murs and Living Legends kind of shit. Eventually I just didn’t want to hear people complaining. I wanted a little bit better vibe. A lot of the shit I like now is kind of dumb hip-hop. Not that I would call it that, but it’s definitely not as cerebral. I like Riff Raff and shit like that for example. I like Kendrick Lamar and guys like that too though.

Black Hippy are on fire right now.

I’ve seen them play twice now. One time they were really good, one time they were kind of bad. I was big on the Schoolboy mixtape when it came out, Prince Will from F2M showed introduced me.

You’ve called your music “syrupy” in past interviews. How do you reconcile that slow, Southern sound with your juke/club influences?

It’s definitely a juxtaposition. A lot of my tracks that are 160 [BPM] or around there don’t always feel like 160. If someone were to listen to one of my tracks and then listen to a Slick Shoota track, they would probably say that the Slick Shoota track is faster. Just a lot more dense percussion. Sometimes the juke elements are more implied than explicitly stated in my work. Also, the sound palette that I use is not the same as most people who are actually from Chicago and make traditional juke or footwork, or the people that are reinterpreting it.  A lot more synth-heavy and introspective. Softer.

What have been a few of your best live experiences?

The best one was playing last year on my 21st birthday. I played Icee Hot with Addison Groove. Everyone was so supportive and I hadn’t really played – well I had played out before that – but I hadn’t really done any super big shows. All of the Icee Hot guys, Shawn the editor of XLR8R and the rest of the guys, were all so nice to me and made the whole crowd wish me happy birthday. It was just really good vibes. There were a whole lot of people there to see Addison Groove specifically, but they liked what I played a lot and afterwards he  [Addison Groove] was like “you did a really good job”. Definitely high praise from someone I respect a lot. I went to SXSW a couple months ago and that was an amazing experience as well. I got to meet so many people there that I had been talking to online IRL, which is always a weird thing. Had that experience repeatedly. But it was great, I think I played 6 or 7 times in all. My favorite party was the Body High/Sound Pellegrino that we did on the first night I was there. The Body High guys, Jerome and Sam put it together with the Sound Pellegrino guys  (who are so amazing), but my homie Joaquin from San Francisco organized the whole thing behind the scenes and it just really went well. The actual spot for it wasn’t that big, but there was a 200- or 300-person line waiting outside the whole time, because they were blasting music out by the walkway. Just one of the better responses I’ve had.

Do you have a dream venue?

I mean, not really. I’d love to play at some of the places in Europe that I’ve been hearing about for a long time. Like Paris Social Club. I would have loved to play at Plastic People. Fabric would to top tops.  But really, wherever, someone’s house!

Northwest labels like Car Crash Set and Dropping Gems have been churning out bass music, or whatever you want to call it, for the past few years, but the Northwest bass scene as a whole still seems pretty small. Where do you see it progressing and how do you imagine that happening?

I really like that the Dropping Gems guys are doing and I could see their shit developing into something really cool. It’s definitely a little more beat scene-y than what I do. DJAO is really dope. Sadly, the head of Car Crash Set, Cosby, is moving to DC so I think that will be a blow to the Seattle/Northwest scene. He is the most selfless promoter. He never makes the gigs he does about him or his label, and always brings really new artists out who wouldn’t have been brought if he wasn’t onto their shit. He’s just a big help for everyone in the scene. Really reliable and selfless so it’ll be a blow. I’m optimistic about the future in Seattle and the Greater Northwest though. I went to Olympia a week and a half or two weeks ago to play a show, and they actually have surprisingly really cool little scene there. A lot of people came to the show and knew the music I was playing. It gives me a little bit of hope for things in this area to pop off.

There’s been a sort of renaissance of club music on the West Coast, where before it always seemed to be situated on the East Coast. Guys like you, Jim-E Stack, LOL Boys and Nguzunguzu are all pushing the envelope within that sphere. Is there much of a community among you?

Yeah, definitely. I played my first show with Jerome from LOL Boys and my third show or whatever with Jim-E Stack and we definitely talk a good bit. More than an East Coast/West Coast thing, I think it’s more of a move away from idolizing London and the UK so much. For a long time, really the whole period I was getting into bass music, or whatever this kind of music is called, London was the pinnacle. I idolized the French too (and still idolize them both, to a degree) but a lot of people in America were playing those sounds for a while and I think we got a little bit tired of looking to London or France or elsewhere in Europe for influence. There are so many great regional scenes that are happening in America and cool things that I wasn’t recognizing, and wanting to credit those scenes is a sentiment shared by many. I think that’s one of the biggest moves, the regional scenes becoming popular. American heritage as our influence. That being said, nguzu, jim-e and LOL boys all make music and hold influences very different from my own, so I don’t want to speak for them J

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