Time Out NY - August 2002
Rob Paine's Worship Recordings pushes the intoxicating sounds of dub-house to a bottom-heavy peak
By Bruce Tanturn
House music has long relied on the Jamaica?born art of dub technique for a large part of the genre's appeal; there’s no better way to enhance the out of body sensation of a truly intense house session than a dose of spliff friendly, echoey effects. Few house imprints employ the stripped down, effects laden ways of dub better than the Philadelphia based Worship Recordings, which recently released WOR.C0.01, a collection of the label's echo heavy music. The tracks were mixed by label leader Rob Paine who, on Saturday 3, will join the rest of the Worship crew in taking over Brooklyn's underground music headquarters, Halcyon, for a night of blunted beats.
West Coast imprints such as Grayhound and Tango are the labels most often associated with dubby house, but Worship stretches the style to its limits. "I was influenced by those West Coast labels,
"I think the music I make, and everything we release, kind of takes the sound a lot further," says the 30 year old Paine. Indeed, the label's music, produced by Rocket,
Succulent, Solomonic Sound (Paine himself and partner Zack Eberz) and others, are positively dripping with swooshing reverb, heavy delay, deeper than deep bass and snippets of Rasta tinged vocals. The reggae connection carries over to the label's imagery, with Rasta iconography like the Lion of Judah and the Seal of King Solomon adorning each record. (Paine and Eberz also run straight reggae parties in Philly and elsewhere.)
Paine's love for the music dates back to his childhood days. "Reggae is the sound I love?it's just running through my blood. When I was in the fourth or fifth grade," he says, ,'my older brother's friends would make me these rnix tapes of groups like the English Beat, the Police and the Clash. I loved those mixes, but it wasn't until much later that I realized that they all were heavily reggae influenced." By the time Paine was in I 1th grade, he was fully into real deal reggae, and he still makes regular record shopping excursions to Kingston.
Paine, who's proficient on sax, spent the early '90s working the South Jersey and Philly club circuit with a ska?funk band called Hyperactive. He then enrolled at Temple University as a jazz improv major, but his education was cut short by a car accident in'94. "It knocked my two front teeth out, the top ones," he says. "It fucked up my embouchure, which is how you hold a wind instrument in your mouth. I couldn't play anymore." Luckily, he had been deejaying a bit on the side. "I figured I'd better start spinning full on, because it was all I had at the time, musically speaking. That led me to where I am today, so I look at the accident as Jah's work, even though it was a horrible thing."
Paine had picked up studio skills while working with Hyperactive and began laying down his dub heavy house tracks. He sent out a few demos, but the music's deep excursions into reggae seemed to scare some labels? "I realized that we were going to have to put out the music ourselves," Paine says. "One of my best friends, Dan McGehean, had the financial means to set up a label, and I had the material and the ideals, so we were like, 'Let's just do it!' " The Paine produced Christian Street Princess EP was released in '98; that record, and the 13 that have followed, have found favor with a diverse array of house jocks, ranging from tech house duo Inland Knights to spiritual house guru Joe Clausell. Worship has even been welcomed into the progressive house camp; Paine claims Sasha and Digweed as fans, and a Solomonic Sounds remix of Universal Agents leads off the latest Bedrock mix CD, compiled by prog kingpin Chris Fortier.
Even Worship's recording studio landlord is a fan, which means a lot: He's none other than the veteran Philly producer songwriter Kenny Gamble (of Gamble & Huff, who defined the soulful Sound of Philadelphia). "The first time he came over here, he was like, 'All right, who's the guy making all that music?' I'm like, 'Oh, shit, I'm sorry, I can turn it down.' He goes, 'No, man, it sounds great!' It's beautiful knowing that even someone like that can get into what we're doing."
With all they have going for them, one might think the Worship crew is raking in the dough, but Paine claims that's not the case. "Everything we make goes into equipment and paying bills," he says, "and it's not like we sell lots in the first place, maybe a couple of thousand per release. Even that Bedrock money had to go directly to paying rent. We're broke, but at least we're feeling the love."
Worship Recordings takes over Halcyon on Saturday 3.
WOR.CD.01 is out now.
Stuff @ Night interviews Rob
Mixing Paine + pleasure
Dj/producer Rob Paine's Rasta grooves by Bree Rolfce
THE SUN COMES up in the morning and goes down at night, and that's all you need to worry about." That may, be DJ/producer/Rastafarian Rob Paine's mantra, but with a record label to run, DJ gigs to play, and club nights to oversee, his worries lately extend far beyond the earth's daily cycles.
When he's not in the studio sorting out broken air conditioners and computer crashes, Paine is busy running the successful house label Worship Recordings with partners Zach Eberz and Dan McGehan. In addition, he has a full DJing schedule, which includes gigs at venues like London's legendary Fabric, as well as a local stop, at the Phoenix Landing on Wednesday, August 7. Paine is currently touring in support of Worship's first CD compilation, which was mixed by Paine and includes tracks produced by him and the rest of the Worship Records crew. The CD includes the label's first 10 releases, and it showcases its unique house?meets reggae sound. The label's ability to meld old and new genres, while still maintaining a forward?thinking sound, has earned it a solid reputation in the house scene. "Reggae has always been the foundation for us," Paine explains. "Even if in the '80s we were going to punk shows, there were always reggae DJs who played in between sets. Everything we did was built on that foundation. When it came to production, we just took elements from reggae. We just kind of brought it to the house music we were making."
Paine's interest in music began at a young age. In his hometown of Philadelphia, he started playing the saxophone in the fourth grade; by the age of 15, he was playing keyboards and saxophone in bands that were actually recording. After high school, he went on to college, where he continued to study jazz and the saxophone.. But in the early '90s, the young musician started attending outlaw parties, where he developed his love for house music. From then on, he divided his time between DJing and playing the saxophone until a 1995 car accident changed his course forever. Forced to give up the saxophone and his education, he began to concentrate completely on producing and DJing. "Now, I can't think of any other way it could have gone," says Paine. "I wasn't able to finish [school], but at the same time, for what I do now, I got as much schooling as I should have. It definitely helps me a lot with my writing. It makes everything come together more easily."
Paine's production work includes his solo tracks as well as collaborative work with partner Zach Eberz; collectively, the duo is known as Solomonic Sound. The pair plan to release a full length album by the end of the year. Currently, Paine is hard at work building the Worship Records name; he also has five remixes in the works for other labels, including Tango, Fiji, and the UK label Shaboom Recordings. In addition, he plans to continue DJing as much as possible. After his stop in Boston, he heads up to Canada for a mini tour. In addition to the house music projects that Paine and the Worship crew are involved in, they also run a successful reggae sound system and a popular club night in Philadelphia. Paine even still plays in some live acts.
By melding the house and reggae worlds, his work is helping to slowly change the face of house music. Whether working alone or with the other artists on Worship, Paine focuses on creating house music that is more thoughtful than dance music has traditionally been by writing better lyrics and using solid vocalists found through his reggae connections. "When I was first introduced to house in the late '80s, I was working at Blockbuster video, and I had a friend who liked hip?hop who went to parties where they played house," he says. "When he would try to explain house music to me, he would just dance, no words, just dancing. We want to start to put more words and meaning into that feeling that house music gives. Right now, it's been the same words over and over again for years. We want to try and bring in original singers who sing about the more spiritual side. We want to put more goodness into the music. We feel that there needs to be more love."
Right now explaining how he's trying to fix the studio's air conditioners so that the computers don't crash from the excessive summer heat Paine may not seem spiritual. But it's clear from the hypnotic, soulful sounds he consistently creates that while his worries may extend well beyond the rising and setting sun, they never obscure his overall view of a good vibe.
DJ Times features Rob Paine
On his latest mix comp, Paine breaks out the big basslines.
by Lily Moayeri
To some it may seem strange to play house music with a dub reggae aesthetic, but to Rob Paine, it makes perfect sense. Deeply influenced by the music of Philadelphia's Jamaican community, Paine has managed to immerse himself in both cultures while not shortchanging either.
"Any music that is good music is in my heart," says Paine. "Reggae is the foundation, [but] house culture blew us away in the late '80s. Once you get to a dance and you feel the energy of what's going on, it relates to what we feel from reggae music and the vibes that we get. It's a positive feeling that is so good. We don't feel we're doing anything that hasn't been done before, we're [just] trying to step up."
A Dj spinning both genres for 10 years now, Paine established his imprint Worship Recordings with partner Dan McGehean in 1998. Bringing the warm, clubby basslines of reggae into the solid beats of house music, Worship combines the best elements of the two and his latest mix comp, Wor.CD.01 - A Worship Records Compilation, offers the label's best moments, especially on tracks produced by Rocket, Hakan Lidbo and Paine himself.
Recording as Solomonic Sound with partner Zach Eberz, as Kidz On Christian Street with Chris Brann, as Divine Conception (a solo pseudonym) or simply as Rob Paine, reggae is the everpresent factor in every creation. A saxophone/jazz improvisation major at Temple University, Paine's background in bands and his musical evolution from punk rock to reggae and then house all figure into his original productions.
Whether making a more reggae based tune or a more house oriented one, Paine employs the same gear. His studio includes Mark of the Unicorn's Digital Performer sequencing software which he says will soon be upgraded to a 3.0 system with an 896 firewire interface. He cuts vocals onto a Roland VS880 or DAT then chops them through an Akai S5000 or S1000 sampler. Vocals, drums and horns are cut with a Neumann M 147 microphone that runs into an Avalon AD2022 pre?amp and a Crane Song STC8 compressor. An Ensoniq DP4 Plus multi?effects processor, a Proteus 2000 synth module, E?Mu Classic Keys, a Roland MDCI Dance Module and a Juno 106 analog synth round out the studio.
"That's all going to change once we go to the new interface and we can go right into the hard disk and everything is right up on the screen," says Paine of the production process. "We always take the dub style when we mix our stuff down with an analog board and are running the mix live. We do all the effects on the fly - nothing's pre-programmed. We'll do a couple of different takes and listen to which rises and swells, will be the best. We really want to combine both because we feel we can get certain things out of analog and outboard gear that we cannot get from plug-ins."
At press time, Paine was maintaining three Philadelphia residencies, including Friday's Solomonic Sound System party at Filo's with partner Eberz. Accessing two Technics 1200 turntables, a Vestax PMC-46 mixer for cutouts and grabs, a Korg Kaoss pad for changing the parameters, a sampler for effects and vocal drops and a microphone, Paine and Eberz split time in and out of the booth. One plays the records, while the other runs the effects; one looks through the records and the other goes to the crowd to feel the mood. While following the Jamaican guidelines of the MC as "Dj" and the record spinner as "selector," Paine and Eberz do throw some house rules into the mix.
"We beat match," he says. "Jamaicans think we're crazy cause they usually play a tune and chat about it in the middle to keep it up. With reggae there's so many different versions, we'll run version after version. I feel house music is going to get to this point. There are only so many tracks that can be made. There are a few that people are going to go back and redo. That's what's been going on in reggae for 40, 50 years, versions are redone, or updone, every 10 years.
"When a version comes out, they'll maybe get three or four singers and a couple of DJs [i.e.MCs] as well, have them voice a tune over the same rhythm. You'll buy the set, maybe six tunes on the same rhythm, they come in 7-inches, with different singers and you'll blend them, real fast. Right at the end of the chorus, you drop the next one in. Unless it's the big tune of the rhythm, you play that one the longest. It usually gets a forward or rewind. It's the same rhythm so the song doesn't really change, but the singers change."
For his straight-up house Dj sets, Paine tries to bring in some reggae elements, but he plays to the crowd first. Preferring a Urei mixer for the house mixes, he might bring in a sampler and always a hand drum for added effect, but he stays within the house limitations, trying not to ask for a rewind, even when he's desperate for one. "When we're at a house dance and they're playing a big tune, I'll start banging on the wall saying, 'Pull up,"' he laughs. "Maybe one day we will be able to have sound clashes like that. When we have a crowd that's there for us, we do it. But you can't just do it and scare the shit out of everyone. But if you get it to a point where it's just bliss, you know when it's at that point 'cause the people are louder than that music, then you have to pull the record up. That's doesn't happen yet, maybe later. When you get to that point, that feeling in house music, it's longer. When I'm playing house, I'm in deep meditation. When you have that feeling, you're not pulling up the record, the energy is gradual. It's a lot different. It's hard to say what's a better feeling. I've definitely felt that spiritual feeling on both levels."
Inquirer interviews Rob Paine
Paine slips some house into the reggae mix at Filo's
By Lloylita Prout
FOR THE INQUIRER
"We take a humble approach, we don't force-feed," said Rob Paine, talking about how he coaxes his audience into accepting a little house music in his Friday night reggae mix.
For about three years, Paine and Solomonic Sound partner Zach Eberz have been pleasing reggae listeners Fndays at Filo's. "It's been consistent; we're blessed every Friday with people not wanting to leave."
Yet patrons of Filo's may not be aware of Paine's whole sound - co-mingling dub and house heard on Wor.CD.01, released in April. The compilation, which includes "Children of Israel" and "Night Life," features tracks from his first 10 releases on Worship Records, a label he started in 1998 with Dan McGehan.
"It is the best of both worlds," Paine said, "because it is a compilation and DJ mix, too."
The CD debut has done well, receiving positive reviews and working the college music charts for about two months, Paine said. But it has been a learning experience.
"It's not like putting out a single [that] is hot, then fades out. You have to really work it, market it," Paine said.
A DJ for 10 years and a music connoisseur even longer, Paine can also be found at Saint Jack's on Tuesdays or monthly at Silk City spinning house (he may miss a couple of dates while he promotes the album). Though Paine would like to spin more of his sound in the city, he won't jump at just anything. He wants the time and circumstances to be right.
"I want to be able to pop off every time I do it," he said.
Patience will continue to carry him through. The label has yet to make a profit, he admitted, but he would never sell out. "We would never change our style," he said.
A spiritual person, evident in both his conversation and his mixes, Paine has been involved in music throughout his life - he began playing the saxophone in fourth grade - but his sound has always been roots music because of its uplifting quality. "Even through punk days it's been the backbone," Paine said.
Saturday he and Eberz will be in Jamaica, not doing reggae, but, interestingly enough, spinning house.