February 28, 2020

Beyond Top Secret Interview & Last Train To Hollywood Review

Allll aboard!!! 

New England hip-hop group Beyond Top Secret release their latest full-length album, Last Train To Hollywood, in concert with their East and West coast headlining tour!!

Dropping March 6 and currently up for preorder, New England hip-hop group Beyond Top Secret are in their prime with their third full-length release, Last Train To Hollywood, a super mix of multi-genre beats and strong-as-steel lyrics that will put a chokehold on any haters who get in the way.

Opening with horror movie vibes, alien buzzing, and a chest-knocking 808, Famous sets the tone and the style of the LP, as the trio rap about the ungrateful and the rich and the real-life struggles that plague the remainder of humanity. It's only fitting that DJ Docta Damnage, Freeze Martian, and DNaz rather be not of this world. Depths takes another stab at showing those who have not been introduced yet to their raw abilities, and altogether, with their intro All Aboard, listeners can get a very strong sense of what Beyond Top Secret is all about.

Another sign of Beyond Top Secret's greatness is the level of eclecticism in their proceeding tracks, such as Non Compliant, which features a racing rock synth to solidify their sci-fi influence, or America, which pulls out a heavy rock riff for the martians to rap over. The horror-cinema theremin that stands out brings a classic dread to this already intense track. Feed The Machine has another very cool guitar loop that Damnage crafts into an unforgettable hip-hop beat. Omerda, featuring Bukshot, is one of just a couple of songs that have guest emcees. The other, 333, has previous Beyond Top Secret member Xplizt on the verse.

We R takes a cathedral-like choral singer and mixes her into a deadly trap and 808 beat as they chant their own mantra, "I'm a-I'm a-I'm a martian," and then "we are-we are-we are martians." Chop A Body, the first single to get the music video treatment in the coming months, is a dark and menacing tune that executes their horrorcore vibe with razor-sharp precision, while 333, as mentioned earlier, brings the original member Xplizt back for a celestial and cosmic rap exercise; its a treat to hear the original members firing on all cylinders as they trade verses back and forth here.

Modern Angels dives into heavy metal riffs and mixes the nu-metal style with Beyond Top Secret's flow, complete with DJ Docta Damnage's cuts and scratches. The final track, Baddest In The Room, fills the air once more with the venom that Beyond Top Secret is known to spit, for a lurid, ominous, and strong finish.

Last Train To Hollywood is full of tracks that can completely wreck weak-minded emcees, but we also have the opportunity to hear it from the group themselves in our exclusive interview!

Let's hear a bit of what the Martians have to say...

AirdriftSignals: Hey guys, how's it going?

DNaz: Awsome man Things have never been looking better for Beyond Top Secret than right now.

AirSig: 2020 is a new year, a new decade, and you guys seem to be hitting it off right with a new tour this Spring, is that right? 

Freeze Martian: Yes sir. We kicked off our string of shows on February 22nd in Jewett City, CT with Apathy of (AOTP) & (Demi Godz). Then we pick back up the following week on The Beast To Blessed Tour.

DNaz: Maaan I can't tell you how exciting it is to be starting off the new year with a tour through the East coast. It sets the tone for the mission were on. We are more than ready to come full force.

AirSig: That's awesome! And from what I understand, you also have a new lineup change as well. Who’s in this time around, and could you give us an introduction for the uninitiated?

Freeze Martian: We released 2 full-length albums in 2014 & 2019 with Xplizt, a female emcee from Connecticut, as well. Now we are back and re-vamped the group into a much more solid force and cohesive unit. That's no disrespect to Xplizt at all. The fact is, if all members of a group don't share the same passion & drive as the others then the whole ship fails. It was a mutual decision and we decided the best direction for the group would be to continue on with DNaz alongside me for future releases and performances. We wish her the best of luck in everything she does in her life and career.

AirSig: Your drop on New Year's Eve, the introductory song “From The Depths”, is off a brand new album coming out that you’re touring for in support of. Can you guys tell us a little bit about your marketing philosophy for taking your group to a higher level?

Freeze Martian: I released my first 2 solo albums of my career with Detroit based Hip-Hop label Long Range Distribution. Since then, I've released multiple albums and group projects on my own independent label Mercy Counts Records. As a national touring artist, it's a little easier for me as opposed to a local artist, but the struggles are all the same. We push music videos and market our music to an underground audience. I feel the music we are making has potential to reach millions and that's something we continue to strive towards daily. Our merchandise does very well, to the point where people purchase our shirts and hoodies even if they are not familiar with the group. They just love the Martian logo. But, in all honesty, the strategies and business tools we are implementing for this release are more thorough than ever before. That I can say as fact!

DNaz: During the making of Last Train To Hollywood, we have come across many new ideas and potential ways of promoting music. There is nothing but opportunity in the future. The only thing we need to make an impact is hunger, and that's exactly what we are, hungry. We are crawling "From The Depths" to prove a point in this business. There is a lot of magic brewing in the cauldron after the release of this album.

AirSig: Nice! And your new album Last Train To Hollywood... How is this release different from your last, Destroy and Rebuild, besides the obvious?

Freeze Martian: All of our albums are concept albums. So each album represents a different perspective of life or theme. Our first release "Cut The Power" was about abuse of power. Obviously being related to world issues, corruption and also the abusiveness and injustices of the music business. The last album "Destroy & Rebuild" was like a double edge sword. It was about the after effects of the themes represented on the first release. A system becomes corrupt... Now it must be destroyed in order to build something better. The songs dive into the occult and had a very dark theme a lot of the time. The whole momentum of the album as a whole is very slow. It has it's strong points and I love it for what it is completely. But, coming into this next album, I can say that not only has the story in this Beyond Top Secret universe evolved, its story is becoming more interesting. Almost naturally lol. This is the ultimate journey on the path to what everybody strives for in their own lives... Personal success. Last Train To Hollywood says it all. It's the last dance, last chance... Last Hoorah! For us music will never die. But this is where this particular story comes to an end. So I guess we'll have to wait to see what's next in the book of life for Beyond Top Secret.

AirSig: As for DJ Docta Damnage and Freeze, is there anything new that you two took to the table when was time to produce the music of this LP?

Freeze Martian: We always try to be better than we were before and I think we do that very well. Every record we do sounds completely different than the one before it and they always evolve. We tapped into so many different influences and genres while making this latest record. There's a lot of rock influence on some of the songs we brought to the table on this and I don't think our approach was unauthentic or corny at all lol. But we also upped our game when it comes to the delivery on some of the more hip-hop tracks. There's something for everyone here for sure!

AirSig: Yeah, I heard the rock influences. Very well-done! As a hip-hop group, you will all get that larger combined following, talent, and opportunities. What’s it like pulling off these feats as a team?

Freeze Martian: It's actually easier to operate as a group when everyone is on the same page. 2 minds are always better than one.

DNaz: There is so much motivation in the group. There's no room for slack at Mercy Counts. With all the talent and determination at hand, it feels there is nothing that can stand in our way.

AirSig: Are there any hip-hop groups or artists that specifically come to mind that have influenced you through your formation and evolution?

Freeze Martian: Good songwriting as a whole inspires me. But, I've been making music so long that I can't really say any specific artist had inspired me more than any other. I use real life experiences and feelings to express myself in my music. It's not really something I can achieve trying to imitate anybody else specifically.

DNaz: We all make music coming from the experiences that make us. We have a chemistry that influences each other and that will keep us growing as a group.

AirSig: Stylistically, you have a hardcore rap vibe going for you, but are there any other stylistic hip-hop elements or choices that you made for this release as opposed to previous releases?

Freeze Martian: Like I said before, we definitely blended a lot of styles on this album. There's rock, obviously a strong hip-hop influence, but we also tapped into certain punk rock elements and even new age alternative. It's definitely the most diverse album I have ever been a part of.

DNaz: This album brings a lot of genres of music into play, with our own twist of course. There's a new sound coming that cannot be generalized with other music, and we can't wait to bring it.

AirSig: Besides the Beast to Blessed Tour, are there any other shows, music videos, or projects you have planned for 2020? 

Freeze Martian: We will be releasing a music video for the song Chop A Body off the new release. Anybody that has watched one of my videos in the past knows that we always aim to please visually lol. A lot are horror themed or science fiction related and that always makes for a fun watch. We're bringing our A-Game on this next one coming out in April.

Check out Beyond Top Secret on the Beast to Blessed Tour with Full Blast Booking this March! Listen to Last Train To Hollywood by preordering or streaming on March 6!

Last Train To Hollywood

Recommended Tracks: Non Compliant, We R, 333

February 22, 2020

Interview: DJ Nihilist

Our artist spotlight interview series this time takes a deep dive with talented, Connecticut dubstep artist, DJ Nihilist!

AirdriftSignals: Hi DJ Nihilist? How are you doing today?

DJ Nihilist: I’m alright, just chilling... it’s been a long weekend haha.

AirSig: It’s a new year but more notably a new decade. How do you envision this turn of time for yourself creatively, or do you have any resolutions or goals in mind?

Nihilist: Musically the only real goal I have this year is to write my second EP, but I’m sure there will be other singles and what not that pop up. Personally my goal this year is to be more focused on my health, both physical and mental. I find that if I’m in a good space it’s easier to write more music too so it’s a win-win situation.

AirSig: Those are great resolutions! Just balancing the body and mind healthily could lead to more creative clarity. How do you feel your area of Newtown and more broadly Connecticut has contributed to the music scene and your overall molding as an artist?

Nihilist: I love the Connecticut music scene more than words can express; I’ve been in it for close to a decade now, which kind of bends my mind sometimes haha. There has and continues to be so much amazing talent coming out of the state that inspires me every day, and the tight knit nature of the scene we have creates some of the best energy at shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing . There have been a lot of shifts and changes over the 8 years, and keeping the scene alive can sometimes be a challenge... but I’d say it’s in a really good place right now and only getting stronger.

AirSig: Could you tell us what the inciting incident was that gave you the electronic music bug?

Nihilist: Really just going to my first show at the Dome at Oakdale in Wallingford. It was Kill the Noise and Figure with a bunch of other killer acts in 2012, and it was honestly one of the most freeing experiences of my life. I had been messing around with loops and such in garage band for years, but learning how these producers I admired made their stuff inspired me to get Ableton and start going in that direction.

AirSig: Who are some of your biggest influences in electronic music or just music in general?

Nihilist: As far as major artists go I’d say my longest running influences would be Liquid Stranger, Psymbionic, and Dirt Monkey. I’m also incredibly influenced just by music in general, like traditional music is beautiful and anything that makes you feel something can be learned from. But more than anything in the last few years I’ve been influenced by all the amazing producers in my community who inspire me to go my absolute hardest. Honestly too many to list but Tsimba, Second Nature, Ickis, Abomnabl, and Shiver Me Timbers would be just a few I could mention.

AirSig: I can tell from your recent singles and previous releases that you are a specialist in dubstep music. Dubstep is an interesting genre in that it originated from a much more mellow genre of dub, which in turn came from reggae. It has since morphed into an amalgam of side genres such as brostep and EDM. Where do you see your sound falling on the spectrum and where would you like to go with it?

Nihilist: Yeah, dubstep has definitely gone through a lot of changes since I got into the genre. I think that more melodic and wonky sound is coming back around though, and that’s definitely where I’d place my music these days. I’m not against harder stuff though, once my sound design gets super rough you can definitely expect bangers haha. I wouldn’t say I really specialize in dubstep though. In fact, I don’t think I specialize in anything. I have influences all over the place, and I find music for me is just very much about how I’m feeling at the time. But as a DJ I like to play around in all the BPM ranges, so I want to make music for every tempo.

AirSig: What equipment do you use when you produce? And mix?

Nihilist: I use Ableton Live with the Serum VST primarily (just like everyone else haha). I use Splice and a few other things sometimes, but I think you can do a lot with a little in Ableton. As far as mixing goes I’ve been trying to find gigs where I can use CDJs to get more comfortable with that. I really like the accessibility of just being able to have a flash drive with tunes on it for gigs, but at home I practice on a Pioneer DDJ-SR.

AirSig: Do you find it necessary to add any additional hardware or software in the future?

Nihilist: Not really, I mean like I said you can do a lot with just ableton and a flash drive haha. I mean I don’t know where I’d be without my midi keyboard cause I hate using the piano roll, but the only thing I’d really like in the somewhat distant future would be a nice MPC or other pad trigger controller.

AirSig: Tell us about your experiences playing live. You have a number of tracks that would do amazingly on a dance floor. What is it like to DJ a set with others and your own tunes?
At Christy's Irish Pub, New Haven, CT

Nihilist: I actually don’t play out as much as I’d like, but DJing is one of the most fun things I’ve ever done in my life. And getting my tracks to a level of quality where they sound good being played out has been incredibly rewarding. But honestly my favorite thing about DJing is playing songs from my friends and finding cool ways to fit my own stuff in there.

AirSig: Are there any recent shows or mixes that you’re especially proud of or upcoming ones you’d like to talk about?

Nihilist: Last night (2/9) at Christy’s Irish Pub in New Haven was one of the most fun sets I’ve played because they had reinforced sound in that place, and it was knockinnnn. The promoters like it enough they wanted me back on February 25th for a house and bass night. I also had a lot of fun recently doing a set on Bridgeport’s radio WPKN, which I used to play on occasionally a few years ago. I forgot I wasn’t supposed to swear on air though, so I have to work on that for next time haha.

AirSig: In a genre that’s already full of so many players, what do you think it takes to rise above the sea of producers and DJs?

Nihilist: Honestly just individuality, long term dedication, and work ethic I think (I hope). And also a well founded and honest relationship with your fans and community. I will say as I approach 25 years old I’m starting to grow out of a desire to “rise above” other producers or “make it big”. I just want to be happy and healthy and able to make the music that speaks to me. And if that music connects with anyone then I’m just appreciative.

A very humble viewpoint indeed. 

DJ Nihilist's latest single, Outer World Bounce, can be heard on most major streaming platforms now! His previous singles can also be heard on most platforms. You can also read our full-length article of his production work here!

February 21, 2020

DJ Nihilist - Outer World Bounce and Dubstep Singles Galore

From our interview with DJ Nihilist, it's no question that he is going to have great things lying in wait for him. The first and most notable of those is his most recent release, Outer World Bounce! 

Outer World Bounce is the first of DJ Nihilist's 2020 arsenal, and it's a worthy successor to his previous electronic and dubstep jams. Opening with an alien buzz, spaceship synth, and old sci-fi sample of a scientist on an unprecedented journey, Nihilist's grime-y beat kicks in and breathes and reverberates; its purpose to transport listeners into the deep recesses of our imaginations. Its vocal sample is heady, and the sound design boggles the mind when the bass makes waves and crawls and feels very much alive. Pulling out from this fuzzy and wobbly drawl and into a spontaneous groove, it makes its final syncopated motion playful before its pulse cuts out. The journey ends as it plays up the psychedelic sample that speaks alongside a buzzing machine that ultimately fades. 

Voyager Lost, the second most recent single, follows close by for its August 2019 release. Opening with a spine-tingling set of computer bleeps and vocalized memories that echo from a dark and mysterious void, this track pulls listeners into a slow unfurling of electronic dance music that has become popularized in the EDM scene with its atmosphere of sensual waves and a steady approaching bass that washes over the listener. It doesn't take long for Nihilist's primal bass to wake up and flutter its grime-y form, sounding almost like a monstrous beast that is waking and stretching its limbs.

After the unforgettable bass creeps through this first movement, Nihilist morphs its shape on the spot as radio signals beep and bloop, on a long and distant voyage to anyone who can hear them. The automation at play here swings like a pendulum and displays Nihilist's adept ability at crisp production and sound design. It's amalgam of almost-living bass effects, nostalgic piano chords, echoing synths and moaning female vocalizations make Voyager Lost the linchpin of modern dubstep.

Finally, Existential is a ground-pounding and head-banging piece of music. If there was only one way to describe its killer mixture of aggression and sonic assault, it would be full-blown, but we have an opportunity to dive deep into this track that poses a very existential threat to every DJ who spins it and listener who thrashes to it. Opening with just the right amount of eerie synths and horror atmosphere, its opening is short and sweet, as the man in the track delivers a warning to the wary, "better watch out!" The track pulls out from there into a lane all its own and full horrorcore dubstep burns up the track, littered with all the dark and foreboding effects that any fan would expect or want to hear. There's sinister laughs, reminders that you "cannot outrun death," and that if not careful you'll be taken out. Its a single that is the makings a producer on the search for perfection in song composition and design.

Nihilist's final preceding releases pull from other diverse backgrounds of music. Night Terrors takes a melodic horror spin that almost verges into the style of hip or trip-hop before the super imposing bass tears the track up. His Space Highway EP show off his humble beginnings and yet more styles that Nihilist is willing to explore in his musical career, including that of reggae and danceable electronic goodness (Space Highway), a mix-up of big band/reggae/dubstep styles (Good Vibrations), and mind altering and reverb-soaked dub (Time).

From each of these releases even dating back to his debut Space Highway EP, DJ Nihilist shows a magnitude of promise and focus, both in his willingness to veer into multiple grooves within a single track and to show his song structures and designs as they evolve over time. His upcoming DJ set at New Haven's Christ'y Pub on Tuesday, February 25 is a house set, which will be another avenue Nihilist is intent on exploring. Check out his singles, support local music, and check out his night this Tuesday!

February 10, 2020

Interview: B. Dvine

Our artist spotlight interview series this time takes a closer look at B. Dvine, who is promoting his brand new, self-produced EP, Times Have Changed!

AirdriftSignals: How long have you been producing/emceeing?

B. Dvine: I have been producing for 16 years and emceeing for the past 9.

AirSig: You are a Long Island native. How has location informed you musically, either in influence or output?

B. Dvine: Long Island is very diverse so you get to see both sides of the fence in almost every sense of that term, and I've seen the ups, downs, lefts, and rights so when I go in two different lanes it comes natural.

AirSig: Is there a specific set of equipment that you prefer to use when producing hip-hop beats?

B. Dvine: Right now I've been heavy on the maschine and you can use keyboards and live instrumentation. I've been using Sony Acid Pro since the beginning but lately it's been about elevation and growth.

AirSig: Speaking of live instruments, are there any that you’ve been interested in learning to incorporate more into your sound?

I want to pick up whatever possible. Violins, trumpets, guitar, bass. Why not learn everything?

AirSig: You have been granted the opportunity to work with a number of prominent artists, such as Tragedy Khadafi, Kinetic 9, Solomon Childs, Young Dirty Bastard, and now Erick Sermon. What has this experience been like?

B. Dvine: It has been both lessons and blessings. I've learned a lot from being around some of these people and it helped me get a better understanding of the business and how to move in this industry so for that I'm grateful.

AirSig: Does the Times Have Changed EP mark the beginning of a new chapter in your artistic career?

B. Dvine: Of course, I'll always stick to my true style but growth is necessary and so is change.

AirSig: The new EP has been a distinct departure in style from your familiar boom bap hip-hop beats. Were you comfortable venturing into this new region of electronic hip-hop styled music?

B. Dvine: I'm a say yes or no. I had to learn to adapt to certain styles but I had fun doing it so that's what's important.

AirSig: Not only does the release stylistically diverge from previous efforts, but the lyrical content of your songs, specifically the opener and closer, have a deeply personal way about them. Did your life’s events and also time working in this genre inform your overall message of Times Have Changed?

B. Dvine: I would say so. Because I see the growth in myself but I also understand that we're in a new age and you don't have to hate on that and still be true to you.

AirSig: Your final track, Mr. Dreams, features a female singer by the name of Xavia. What was it like to add this new type of collaboration to your music? Do you plan on doing more of it in the future?

B. Dvine: I wouldn't say it's a new type of collaboration because I've worked with singers in the past but yeah I like working with singers so I plan on working with more.

AirSig: I hear you have even more exciting developments in your upcoming releases. Do you have anything about your future projects you would like to share?

B. Dvine: Not yet. Let the people soak this in now and when it's time to talk about the future it'll be presented by then.

AirSig: What advice would you like to give newcomer artists who look up to you?

B. Dvine: Stay focused, stay motivated, stay blessed. You're in control of your life path at the end of the day so go your hardest to make it count.

Times Have Changed can be heard on multiple streaming services now! Our full review can also be read here.

B. Dvine - Times Have Changed EP Review

As our interview with B. Dvine makes light of a lot of things going on in this Long Island producer/emcee's life, so too does his latest release, the self-produced, ever-changing, and forever-growing Times Have Changed EP.

Contained herein are five original tracks that are both different from one other, and also different from the rest of B. Dvine's expansive catalogue of rhymes and beats. As a prolific producer and emcee, B. Dvine has already been featured with a number of prominent artists, and found himself on a wide array of releases. It's no wonder the first track of this release, Selfless Pride, opens up with a mental note of gratitude and an essence like Dvine's been to the other side and back, with his struggles and losses over the past few years. He raps, "it's a new age, a new dawn, a new B. Dvine, grow with me" and "like the smiling Robin Williams, for years masking pain, watching my family dismantle made me feel insane, but my sister's health inspired me to diet and train." It's a tough pill to swallow for Dvine, but overall his empowered state of mind, winning attitude, and invitation to grow with him sets the stage for the themes and lessons of Times Have Changed.

Hush Now, the first single of the five, is the only song to feature guest rappers, and it's a first for B. Dvine to invite celebrated artist, EPMD's Erick Sermon, to the stage, while Cuban Pete and D-Rage make the necessary rounds on hook and verse. Sermon raps, "unbelievable, we not equal, E and Dvine, we do it for the people, Cuban Pete and D-Rage, we on stage, every time we step out, we front page." Cuban Pete follows up, "closed mouths get nothing inside 'em, so you know how my people ridin', hush now!" Don't Mean Nuttin' is a necessary follow-up, with its wavy synth beat and Dvine's cutting lyrics as he breaks it down "to the core". The realness of B. Dvine's message pulls the facade off of fake hardcore, gangster rappers in this one, as he raps, "actions louder than words, that's why it's not serious when it comes to you birds, talkin' all like gang gang, nothing ever occurs."

Come Alive thumps with 808s and a club vibe, as Dvine hollers "keep your hands in the sky, make the dance come alive!" It's an easily head-bobbing beat, while Dvine takes his music into a more adventurous and fun detour. His vox fx, 808s and beat syncopation all come together nicely and are signs of more stylized hybrid hip-hop tracks in the future. Chocolate Syrup combines trap hi-hats and women's vocals for a sensual and hypnotic flow. It's another logical follow-up to Come Alive and it's a full-on love song that Dvine executes with lyrical bliss. Mr. Dreams, featuring singer Xavia, brings Times Have Changed back to the beginning of what started it all. What did B. Dvine do with a dream that awoke in him at a young age? He not only chases that dream, he gets it, as he raps, "around that time school couldn't get me to focus, all of my teachers thought I was just hopeless, daydreaming over music they took notice, enrolled me in trade school so I could grow this, dream to reality then I hit the streets, got tired of waiting started rhyming on my beats, sharpened my sword by doing a bunch of feats, then dreams turned reality rocking with elites." As a closer, Mr. Dreams is hard-hitting and inspiring and it ignites the fire that burns in the hearts and minds of those who have also nurtured big dreams.

What B. Dvine shows us with Times Have Changed is a hip-hop release that honors living life to its fullest potential. It does everyone involved, whether it's artist or listener, a favor in its celebration of a life worth living, and stands out amongst a genre saturated with hardcore rappers who honor just the opposite. B. Dvine's got some major stories to tell and lessons to teach within the walls of this EP, and it's all a part of a journey he wants us all to take with him, to grow and evolve together.

Times Have Changed - 9/10

Recommended Tracks: Selfless Pride, Hush Now, Mr. Dreams