In Rotation: Photographer Todd Diederich on "demon bass" | In Rotation | Chicago Reader

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In Rotation: Photographer Todd Diederich on "demon bass"

Plus: the Reader's Miles Raymer on Eek-a-Mouse's private language, and Xina Xurner's Young Joon Kwak on "sonic cross-pollination"

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Black Bananas rad times express
  • Rad Times Express IV by Black Bananas

Miles Raymer, Reader staff writer, is obsessed with. . .

Grand Royal magazine For about a decade after the release of Paul's Boutique in 1989, young proto-hipsters took their cues from the Beastie Boys. Grand Royal magazine, which the group published sporadically from 1993 to '97, was essentially a catalog of shit the Beasties liked—blaxploitation movies, analog synthesizers, Lee Perry, making fun of mullets—as well as one of the best things that happened to me in the 90s. Back issues on eBay tend to list for about 50 bucks apiece—they're probably getting a price bump from Adam Yauch's death—but they're actually worth it.

Eek-a-Mouse Most of the great MCs from hip-hop's golden era are master wordsmiths who toy with the English language like a tiger batting around a bichon frise. And then there's dancehall rapper Eek-a-Mouse, who's so confident in his mike skills that he frequently dispenses with known languages entirely—my favorite line of his, from the 1982 single "Ganja Smuggling," goes something like "Bonggong giddy bonggong giddy ben den den den denamupina mo-hoy, bena den den geddamo-hoy." And it's just sick as hell.

Black Bananas, Rad Times Xpress IV (Drag City) During her long career, former Royal Trux front woman Jennifer Herrema has made everything from aggressively amusical noise to some of the best-crafted smacked-out blues rock since Exile on Main St. Her latest project, Black Bananas, comes off like a warped, synth-damaged reimagining of trashy vintage Sunset Strip glam. I've heard that some forward-thinking strippers are dancing to it, which makes perfect sense. Black Bananas open for Kurt Vile at Lincoln Hall on Sun 5/20.

He asks. . .

Unicorn by T-Rex
  • Unicorn by T-Rex

Todd Diederich, artist and photographer at BeOddDieRich.com, what he's obsessed with. His answers are. . .

Tyrannosaurus Rex's Unicorn on vinyl I found a first pressing of this album in Athens, Georgia, after I left Chicago and dropped out of school. I'd just gotten off my shift dishwashing and was looking for something, though I didn't know what. When I found it, it was $7. I check eBay now and copies go for hundreds. I crawled back into the shack I lived in, turned up the speakers, and drifted far, far away. Catchy, whimsical, and folksy. Reading the lyrics is a must—it's hard to decipher the words through Marc Bolan's ethereal harmonies. This is my favorite relic of the 60s, complete with a cover font proclaiming "Unicorn" a la William Blake on LSD.

Zebra Katz: Champagne mix tape Remix sirens, tornado sirens, realness, swagger, and stanky leg—all the way turnt up. It makes me want to get my ass as close to the ground as I can without touching the ground. It makes me want to levitate my ass over that spot. To bounce up and down as I move out my right leg. It makes me want to wear all black, take pictures, play basketball, hit the streets on my BMX with a lady on the pegs. It makes me want to get a lady on the handlebars too. It's a welcoming into our new age.

All things Chicago At first to get me dancing there was DJ Funk, the Outhere Brothers, Gillette. Now Chicago has some new schoolers, the latest slangers of PLUR vibes: Xina Xurner, The-Drum, Sich Mang, Zombelle, Ultrademon, Supreme Cuts, Mr. 666, Teen Witch, Top8. And we got more true Chicago house/juke: DJ Rashad, Traxman, DJ Spinn. Chicago is pounding you harder than ever. These artists are tapping into demon bass, dark basements, and post-Internet worlds.

He asks. . .

Tina Turner
  • Tina Turner

Young Joon Kwak, artist, singer in Xina Xurner, what she's obsessed with. Her answers are. . .

Shape Shoppe Xina Xurner recorded our first album here over the winter, but Shape Shoppe is much more than a live/work recording studio. It's a hub of cultural production—where diverse bands and artists and the communities that support them convene to hang, share ideas and resources, and collaborate. Sometimes sounds spill over from studio to studio, which is almost a metaphor for the sonic cross-pollination that takes place between resident bands as diverse as the Chandeliers, Mr. 666, Magical Beautiful, and Golden Birthday.

Chicago's new musical sisterhood There's a sisterhood of local bands—Gel Set, Forced Into Femininity, Toupee, Mayor Daley, Wume, Lady Rollins, Ono, the Ovens, Pooper, Pure Magical Love, and many more—that continually redefines notions of feminine power through musical performance. This amorphous community provides a complex collective vision of joy, rage, bravery, and catharsis, as well as an endless source of camaraderie and inspiration for new feminine creation.

I, Tina: My Life Story, by Tina Turner and Kurt Loder An obvious inspiration to Xina Xurner, Tina Turner is a glimmering vision of hope, exuberance, glamor, and triumph. The story of her life's journey and music exemplifies the potential for liberating oneself from past personal/social abuses through one's voice and body.

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