Apostle Of Hustle “It’s a record about battle.”

Like most members of Broken Social Scene, Andrew Whiteman has more musical ideas than can fit on a BSS record. He's thus far released three albums with his band Apostle Of Hustle, managing to explore all sorts of textures and sonic ideas. The overall aesthetic of the band is by no means out of place on Arts & Crafts, but Whiteman's music finds more room to breathe and meander than many of his labelmates. 

I fell for Apostle's first album Folkloric Feel, largely because of the anthemic song "Energy of Death." The album had a familiar BSS-like lush, layered feel, but it ushered in Latin influences and more acoustic instruments. Apostle's newer work retains some of the adventurous spirit of that first album, but it also toys with more interludes and wanders through some darker spaces. In our phone conversation, we talked about the band's new album Eats Darkness, sampling as an homage to '90s hip-hop albums, and the craziness that it is Dirty Projectors. 



You just released your third record, Eats Darkness, on Arts & Crafts.  How would you say this album compares to your previous work?

I'd sat that it's a little more conceptual. It's tighter that way, do you know what I mean?

What's the concept?
It's a record about conflict, it's a record about battle. It's a record of battle songs.

Did anything in particular inspire you to write about that?

I just started writing the songs and things started coming. I didn't really have a plan to write that record to begin with, it just kind of came out like that. When I noticed the songs were veering a certain way, then I kind of grabbed on to it. It just kind of came out like that.

As a lyricist do you like to explore your personal life specifically in lyrics, or do you attempt to write more about subjects separate from yourself?

Well, it goes from the micro to the macro on this record.

There are a significant number of sample-based interludes on the record.  Is that a conscious nod to hip-hop, or did it just turn out that way?

Absolutely. When I realized I was going to make a battle record, obviously I started thinking about hip-hop mixtapes, and I thought it would be really funny to have gunshots and sirens. I thought I would do that between every song and really irritate people, but then when I sat down to actually do them, it kind of took on a life of its own. I added a lot of poetry samples and sound effects. I also stole a bunch of stuff from certain TV stations that eventually I had to change because my record company couldn't afford it if we got sued. I decided to get into it, it was really fun. I actually did about five more, but then they convinced me I should take them off -- it would just be too irritating for people to have to listen to one of those things between every song. It would be confusing for people and all that.  Certainly, the reaction so far -- I mean I tend not to read reviews -- but the reaction I've heard is that it tends to be a pretty divisive record for people who listen to Apostle of Hustle. I think some of the kids are like what the fuck is all this shit, but then other people go, "Wow, I'm so glad you did that, I love William Burroughs." It's good, I like the reaction.

Where did you get the samples?

Some of the sound effects just from friends who do film scores and things like that. Some of the stuff I recorded. I like recording things off the street, so some of the stuff is just street sounds, some is just stoner jams I did by myself. Gunshots I got were easy to get, just Gulf War stuff. A lot of the poetry I got off a site called Boo Boo Web, which is just sort of an amazing site dedicated to avant-garde practice.

"It's not hard, because Broken is what it is, a massive thing with so many cooks and all that, and Apostle isn't...  It's not too hard to differentiate."

You're earlier records seemed to be more focused around the tres, and you seem to be playing less of that now. Any reason?

The tres is on three of the songs on the record. I just don't choose to follow stylistic conventions too well. So, you might hear it, but you would think you're hearing a twelve-string guitar because I don't play it in the quote unquote Cuban style, at least not very often.

How do you balance your pop sensibilities with your tendency to experiment with unusual sounds?  Do you base songs around hooks and add strange arrangements to them, or do you work with unusual elements until a song develops?

Every Apostle record has a shadow record, which is a stoned in the basement version of all the songs. I do all of my stuff on my laptop in ProTools, and we pull those over to the studio, and some of the stuff stays, and some of the stuff we rerecord over. Folkloric Feel was Dave Newfeld's production, so it's a fucking chaos massive beautiful huge submerged thing, and then National [Anthem of Nowhere], the next one, we tried to pull the vocals up so you could hear the lyrics more. So this one is more... I think, in the trajectory of the band, I'm trying to a place where I can kind of write trance music -- like just write songs with one chord. I made a couple of moves toward that in this record, like the song "Perfect Fit" is just basically riff and a chord. I'm trying to pull things away. It also maintains that basement vibe, because that's where most of it happens.

Have you been listening to a lot of trance music lately?

I think so.  I always like that music, whether it's John Lee Hooker or Elmore James, or whether it's Gnawa music or house music. You can kind of find it in every genre, there are people that are just tripping out on one chord or a repetitive thing. So, it circles around my consciousness, for sure. I mean, I love Bacharach too, but you know.

How do you make time for Apostle records when you're involved in Broken Social Scene?

Well, I don't.  It's really really hard. Broken started recording our new record, and Broken's going to go hard once the new record comes out next year. That's the shame of the whole thing, I love playing in both bands, but I don't get enough time to really promote Apostle, so it is a side project right now. It has to be because Broken's just a bigger affair, so I've gotta do that. I just try and fit it in a bunch when I can. I try and not get too exhausted by thinking about it. I just bought a movie camera so I just made my first movie, and now that's kind of exciting to me. I haven't had too much luck making videos with other people, but I might be able to start making videos for myself with my camera and iMovie. I think I'm finally figuring out what kind of a band Apostle is, I think it's finally coming together.

"I started thinking about hip-hop mixtapes, and I thought it would be really funny to have gunshots and sirens. I thought I would do that between every song and really irritate people."

Do you make a lot of effort to separate the sound of Apostle from the sound of BSS?

It's not hard, because Broken is what it is, a massive thing with so many cooks and all that, and Apostle isn't...  It's not too hard to differentiate.  The only sort of stylistic thing is that Apostle has a fair amount of minor key songs in there. Obviously the drums are very different because it's Dean Stone playing not Justin Peroff, and Dean is starting to play more with percussion as opposed to drums. Not so much on the record Eats Darkness, but since then he's been playing Pandeiro and Venezuelan maracas, and there's a fair amount of Cajon on Eats Darkness. So, it's different even because of that.

You seem to have so many highly talented friends, how do you choose the personnel you work with in Apostle?

Well, it's often kind of who's around. This record got made in such a way that not many people were around, so I didn't get any horns put on it except on "Soul Unwind." People were off doing their own thing, so Eats Darkness was necessarily just the three of us, except for Brodie [West] plays sax on "Soul Unwind" and Lisa [Lobsinger] sings on "Soul Unwind." I think most of it's just the three of us after that.

Will you be doing more touring as Apostle in the U.S. any time soon?

I'm going to go out in October and November because Charles Spearin will be touring with Do Make Say Think. If Charlie goes out, then that's a good time for me to go out because for sure there won't be any Broken stuff going on. If my time hooks up with Charlie then it'll work out. We haven't really got the tour together yet.

Will you be hitting the states?

Absolutely. We did a little quick run about a month ago. We went to Philly and New York, and we did like four or five shows. We played with this fantastic band called Forro in the Dark. It'll be great to go back and do it properly.

"I think some of the kids are like what the fuck is all this shit, but then other people go, "Wow, I'm so glad you did that, I love William Burroughs."

Is there any new, amazing music you're listening to that people should know about?

Yeah, it's my job, you know? There's so much great music happening right now. My favorite thing right now is Wildbirds & Peacedrums.

Where are they from?

They're from Sweden, it's a duo, husband and wife, and it's basically drums and vocal. It's fucking unbelievable, I love it. That's number one; number two is Dirty Projectors. Dave Longstreth opened for Broken Social Scene at New York University when it was just him and a laptop, I've been kind of a fan ever since. They of course had their accident, so they never made it here to Montreal, but I just checked in the paper today, and I saw they made a make-up date. It's in two days. I totally lucked out because I'm not on tour. It's a Wednesday, I'm at home, so that'll be fantastic.

Yeah, I just had the chance to see Dirty Projectors for the first time the other day, and they were as tight live as everyone told me they would be.  They're pretty much incredible.

As a guitar player, it almost makes you want to put it down, you know?  After you've seen him play... I mean, I came close once before, I guess it was back in like '94?  I saw Jeff Buckley play at a really really small place, it was before he got his band together. That was the only other time I thought, fuck, I gotta put my guitar down, this motherfucker can play. It's more about the guitar playing than the voice, for me.

And it's not just the technical skill, it's the really unusual and unique voice he has with his guitar. It's unlike anyone else.

For me, it's like what's he doing with his guitar? Why does it sound so huge? Why does it not get boring? What is this mix of things that he's doing? And Longstreth is the same way. What is this combination of arpeggiating and strumming and not playing... like what is it? It's amazing.

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