When I was over in L.A earlier this year Take dug through his archives and unearthed some flyers for me. One of which is the above, a Sketchbook flyer from circa 2005 hand drawn by Kutmah. The flyer is from when Sketchbook was held at The Little Temple, the second half of its incarnation.
The words on the flyer tell a story of their own. There’s the summary of the night’s ethos inside the drawing of the woman: ‘Dirty beats instrumental bliss chopped up weeded next level ish’. There’s the alliegances at the bottom: Under The Weather, Dublab (whose studio and office sits above The Little Temple), Firecracker and Sound Lessons. Each of these a piece of the L.A underground puzzle, of the history that led to Sketchbook and would in turn lead to Low End Theory.
On the reverse of the flyer (not pictured here) is a list of past and future guests. The list is a mix of recognisable names – B+, Peanut Butter Wolf, Prefuse 73, JRocc, J-Logic, Domu, Caural – and L.A underground veterans, many of whom Kutmah cited to me as direct inspirations and influences – Sacred, Jun, Praise One, Valida, Jas One and Alfred Hawkins.
Check the extract from my interview with Kutmah for more on all that.
One name caught my eye when I looked back at the flyer – Willow. The affiliations ran as Sound In Color, a legendary L.A label set up by Mainframe that released GB, Exile and many others in the early 00s, and MHE, who released on SiC and whose history is slightly mysterious. I remembered that Willow was a name people in L.A had told me The Gaslamp Killer used to run by in his early days. And then I remembered that he was linked to MHE. Waxfactor had once told me that the Gaslamp Killers mix CD which was one of the first releases to put GLK on the map, and which also cemented his name, was actually done with/by one half of MHE, a guy called Adam Manella. I looked it up and I stumbled across a thread on a russian pirate forum where Waxfactor was arguing this with someone, before Adam stepped in with his version of the story:
Actually I just made that mix for him to help him get some gigs back in like 2001. He played it for this guy at sound in color named jon and he put it out for 2000 usd. The gaslamp killer and I split the money. That was in 2003. After that he just kept making copies to sell and kept all the money and credit for himself. The gaslamp killer really has a large trip hop collection but as far as the few records he gave us to sample years ago being worth alot of money and him digin deeper than the homies, that is not the case.
It’s funny what you can find when you look in the right places. And it turns out that the mix in question is on Soundcloud – take a listen for yourself.
As for MHE they aren’t really that mysterious, well not since the internet has become what it is. They were a duo composed of Adam Manella and Michael Raymond Russell. After the SiC releases they changed their name to MRR-ADM (their initials) and released a record via Stones Throw that features Malcolm Catto from The Helioncentrics on drums. As far as I know they aren’t active per se. Their music is a blend of crunchy, tightly edited drum breaks and psych vibes – deep bass, etheral guitars and melodies. It is perhaps best summarised by the name of their website: dirty drums. If you can find it, Egon’s Now Again reissued the tracks that originally appeared on SiC (and which had no titles, just track numbers) as a CD-only release for Japan which was I believe remastered. Ten years on it still sounds incredible.