Origins: Feed LA by Nathan Womack
What is it about Feed LA? Their story has twists and turns, same as any other band, or creative endeavor..and yet there is something indescribable, maybe even pleasantly confusing about their sound. As their debut LP is released on Wax Thématique, I find myself doing what I usually do at this point in the record-releasing process: contemplate the fruition, theorize the alchemy, simply consider how this all came to be.
Michael “Treetop” Voss was indeed in the right place at the right time when legendary musical chameleon JJ Whitefield, burst into his life in a random recording studio in Germany hunting for a trumpet player for the soon-to-be internationally lauded “Poets of Rhythm”.
And after Berlin’s Jeff Özdemir's downtempo outfit “Faruk Green” played a few shows with the Poets in the late 90's, crucial connections were made.
Keys player Özgür Bayraktar, and funky drummer & and Jamie Lidell collaborator, Daniel Raymond Gahn were soon added to the group and as Jeff put it "Treetop and I loosely got back in touch in around 2015. It took another three or four years to have him overdub some trumpet lines on my tracks and in early 2020 Feed LA was born”.
I, like the rest of us, was deep in the throws of the Pandemic's sequel year and was busy doubling down on Wax Thematique's, and my own, scheme for the future. This was when Joel Ricci of Funkways fame that sent me the email: “hey, you might want to check this out”. The link led me to a video of a lathe being cut in Berlin, and the sound from it was Feed LA’s debut song to the world, “Hikaye”.
After a remote meet and greet with the band, we agreed to offer up their privately-pressed 12” of “Hikaye” b/w "The 3rd First Day" on waxthematique.com, as an introduction to Wax’s loyal troop of adventurist listeners. Hikaye encapsulated this first taste of Feed LA mystery, as the opening tribal drum patterns caught my attention. And then, the song gets challenging. Challenging in a way that the label side of my brain says “maybe this would be too much for most people”. But when this sort of flippant thought appears as it often does with demo submissions, I remind myself “who the fuck are most people”?
Andy Sells of Select Level once suggested, “let your listening adapt”. It’s the mantra I refer back to in the early stages of approaching an artist or when an artist approaches Wax.
And so, that summer boxes of the “Hikaye” 12” on beautiful deep black wax started to arriving from Germany to the Pacific Northwest and it began to sell. Meanwhile we worked out with the band an agreement for Wax Thematique to sign Feed LA and release their debut LP the following year. Along with the agreement it was suggested that perhaps a 7” of “Cihangir” could precede the LP (easily one of our favorites from the band).
That 7” eventually got the self-stamped and private-press treatment via the band as well. This was also offered for sale via Wax albeit in and extremely small quantity.
The first go I had at comissioning an artist for the LP cover art and layout didn’t exactly work the way we wanted (these things happen) for one reason or another we couldn’t agree on the direction the visual aspect of the LP should take. Because Jesus, I couldn’t even describe Feed LA’s sound..I tried though, “it kinda sounds like a shape, but I don’t know what shape..or a color! But I dunno if it’s green maybe?” Kind of a dumb move on my part..
So whoever would end up conjuring up the album layout, would really have to “get” the Feed LA sound. We parted ways with the original designer amicably and then suddenly I realized, it’s better to find the art that ALREADY fits the sound as opposed to starting from scratch.
I hopped into my rabid & random collection of bookmarks on the ‘net and began to digitally dig for a guy I remembered had a talent for indescribable but totally unique shapes. I was thinking he was in New Zealand..turns out I was right. It was certainly a bonus that Callum Rooney had designed the art for one of my favorite compilations on Forager Records, "Belong to the Wind",
and incredible poster designs for Kikagaku Moyo
and Brian Jonestown Massacre.
After a quick exchange about using Feed LA's music as the primary inspiration, Callum sent over a few drafts:
They were certainly intriguing enough that confirmed we were indeed back on the right track, and quickly the design and layout began to take shape..
The final version was as Callum put it, “beams colliding” reminiscent of the bands sound, a beautifully structured abstraction, gently crashing into itself. And the back cover was a gorgeous take giving face to the band behind the musics creation.
The only explanation for the magical sound that is Feed LA, is alchemy. All the pieces coming together from, well not nothing..but they're almost conflicting pieces of opposite puzzles not originally designed for one another. And yet they've found their place. That's Feed LA.
Feed LA's debut LP is out now on Wax Thématique.