Get Cryphy: Our theme this year is "Game Six"
L-R: Fundo, Jimmy 2 Times, Plain Ole Bill, and Last Word
Photo by Anna Gulbrandsen
Twin Cities DJ crew Get Cryphy had a pretty huge 2013. A year ago, DJs Plain Ole Bill, Jimmy 2 Times, Last Word, and Fundo's triumphant five-year anniversary party at First Ave cemented their reputation as the reigning kings of the Twin Cities nightlife. Drawing on the skills they've honed backing Atmosphere, P.O.S., Brother Ali and Prof, Cryphy's white-hot sound blends the very best in uptempo, club-banging rap tracks and turntablism.
Gimme Noise caught up with the gentleman of Cryphy after a late-night cramming session to finish their mixtape in promotion of this weekend's 6th annual party, which will feature national names like Spank Rock and Big Freedia for the first time.
Gimme Noise: So, we got you guys on the cover for a pretty in-depth story for last year's five-year anniversary. What have y'all been up to since then? What's life been like in Cryphyland?
Plain Ole Bill: Well, we've been maintaining our party. Since the five-year we've done the Soundset after-party again, which is another big mainroom event for us. In additon to that we've been able to do Summerfest in Milwaukee, and a couple of other bigger shows as well. We did the Prof outdoors, Zombie Pub Crawl again, so we've been trying to do some larger events in addition to our regular monthly party, and kind of performing with the six-turntable and the eight-turntable platform, just expanding on that, which is something we started doing at the last anniversary show, and even a couple of times before that. Just expanding our live show while maintaining the monthly event.
Could you elaborate on that turntable wizardry you were just talking about?
Jimmy 2 Times: When we started Cryphy, Bill and I always did the four turntables and basically what we've done is just kind of expand that to include all four members of the crew. Because Fundo's on the road a lot, often times it'll be myself, Bill, and Last Word doing six-turntable sets. We're taking the principles that Bill and I incorporated into doing four turntables, and just kind of expanding that to include another four turntables, to make a really kinda crazy DJ set where we get to make everything stack on top of each other and go HAM.
Bill: Also, we wanted to do something that was a little different from the monthly parties when we have bigger shows that we're a part of. It's a little bit different, at our monthly parties we never plan stuff, it's a little more off-the-cuff, we kind of do round-robin switching and playing on whatever set up. When we do the six or eight turntables, we usually do more planned routines in addition to live DJing with four members.
I can't wait to hear what you guys cooked up for this year's mix, last year's theme was a riff on Rocky 5000, among many other things. What kind of theme are you going with this year?
Last Word: Game Six!
Bill: Yeah! Game Six!
Last Word: Every year we kinda play off of the anniversary we have, whether it be three, four, five, whatever. This year we kinda tried to figure out what had "six" in it, and there's been a lot of big "Game Sixes" over the year in sports, so we kinda tried to play off of that.
Bill: With these mixes every year, we try to keep a similar approach and style to them, we also try to modify things a little bit. Last year, with our fifth mix, the Rocky 5000, it was a pretty big expansion on the previous years, and I think we kind of honed in on what we were going for. We were more proud of that mix than any other stuff that we had done until that point. For this year, after coming off of such a big year last year with the City Pages article and having solidified the mainroom event, we wanted to change gears a little bit this year.
Jimmy: Also, we've always been very thematic with the mix, and that's staying. We're all really into movies, we're all movie-buffs and so I think it just goes along with that, we tried to make it more of a cinematic kind of mixtape experience. This year I think the sports theme just kind of carried through. You're gonna get a lot of that when you listen to the mix.
Let's run through some tracks/artists that you discovered/got into this year that you knew you had to bring to Cyphy.
Bill: St. Paul Slim, who's our resident host for Cryphy, he's blessed us with a verse, as well as Rapper Hooks, MaLLy and Haphduzn. Those are people that we've all worked with in some capacity before, and we just really dig what those guys are doing right now. They all came through and killed it, honestly. Outside of those guys, we opened it up, "anything goes," in the initial process, is kind of where we were at, but we found ourselves falling back on artists that we just really loved. Pusha T's on our mix a few times, and we coulda fit him on there a little more.
DJ Fundo: This year's more like a Pandora's box, we didn't really have "who's popular" or "who's not," but instead like "Hey, between all four of us, who are we all really into?" We just came up with different ideas, like "I like this person" and kinda mashed 'em all together into a nice little cake.
Bill: We're also using some verses from well-known artists that we're pretty sure people haven't heard. Weird stuff that will pop up on a mixtape here or there, not a DJ mix, but on an artist mixtape, or a feature that kinda got thrown under the rug, we'll pull stuff up like that. Usually an a capella, or making an acapella is something we do, too. By using studio trickery we're able to make these exclusive versions of songs. That was one of our big goals, to to try and make this mix sound as exclusive as possible from the content.
You guys are well known as tastemakers too, your parties have been able to break songs and artists in the Twin Cities that might not have otherwise been noticed, is there anything you're really excited to show off this year?
Bill: We're really excited to have Spank Rock at the party this year. MC Spank Rock, Jimmy and I have been playing since forever, before we did Cryphy. That was one of the artists at the time that certain people dug but other people weren't really into it, but we loved it, and we pushed it.
Jimmy: It kind of emobodied what we were going for at the time, too. This really danceable rap stuff. Early on, back in 2006 or 2007, Spank Rock did a show in the 7th Street Entry and I just remember that the energy that he was putting out was just something that I felt like was really something that people should be taking note of. It really translated, and I feel like having him at the party is gonna take it to the next level. I can tell with Freedia too, that's gonna be ridiculous.
Bill: Both of those artists have a ton of energy, an undeniable energy, and they're great live performers. I think as much as a lot of people love Freedia, Freedia's been here a couple of times at the Turf Club and put on great shows, there's still a lot of people that haven't seen her and I think people are gonna be blown away.
Jimmy: Bill and I DJ'd those Freedia shows at the Turf Club and that was how we kinda got put on to the fact that she was ridiculous live, and playing her tracks at Cryphy too. We did those couple of shows at the Turf Club and just kind of knew that flavor would be really incredible at Get Cryphy.
Cryphy's anniversary parties are known for being some of the best this city has ever seen, is it ever difficult trying outdo the previous year's hijinks? Year in and year out, how do you keep topping yourselves?
Bill: We'll let you know if we felt like we did that on Saturday! But I think bringing in Freedia and Spank Rock, we've never brought in out-of-towners to be a part of this. We've been lucky to be friends with, and have support by amazing MC's from around here to rock our parties. But just to add some outside flavor with really high energy, we have great guests from here too. Hopefully it will add a lot more to it.
2013 and 2014 have really seen you guys expand beyond your monthly parties to take the Cryphy brand elsewhere. Last year when we talked you guys mentioned that it was getting harder and harder, with everyone's busy schedules, to bring all four of you together for the anniversary. Was it as difficult this year?
Bill: In a lot of ways, yeah.
Jimmy: Yeah, it was tough man. Everybody's got a lot going on, which is great, but yeah, it's definitely been a grind, and we just kind of have to make things work at with time as much as we can.
Bill: This party always falls within February or March, we gotta keep it somewhere around the real anniversary. Jimmy and I were just out on the Welcome to Minnesota tour, Fundo's been out on the road a lot this year, Last Word's wrapping up a record with MaLLy right now, so everybody's got these individual things going on outside of Cryphy stuff. We care about this so much, so we're going to make time no matter what. But has it been grueling? Yes.
Last Word: Yeah, and it's been such a gorgeous winter that everybody's been really excited to leave the house, I know I don't have to tell you [Laughs]. But it's supposed to be really nice on Saturday!
Do you feel like it's getting easier or more difficult to find new music that fits into the paradigm of what you guys like to DJ with Cryphy?
Bill: It's been interesting, I don't want to say "difficult" but it's been interesting. It's been an interesting year for rap music, especially club rap music. There's a lot of great stuff coming out, stuff that sounds similar to what we do, but when you're trying to have a style within hip-hop we want something with a specific feel. It's a particular thing to look for, and if it's not out there, you gotta start coming up with different ways.
Jimmy: The trend is towards anthems right now, but not the kind of anthems that are in the kind of rythmic tradition that we really go for, so we kinda have to make our own lane in that respect. We have our roots in that in that really kind of danceable, clubby hip-hop, and we just have to keep making that lane and keep going for it. A lot of times we end up having to make our own stuff, but it works out. So we make it work.
As Cryphy's grown, it's become more than an exercise in showcasing your DJ skills, but also your producing abilities with these mixes and what you do live. Is there anything you're particularly technically proud of that you're doing this year?
Bill: I think we're all really proud of the mix right now. The rappers that we work with, for example, a lot of them don't really fit the aesthetic of what we do with Cryphy, but we love all sorts of rap. I'm an old-school rap buff, I'm always digging through the crates looking for 80's electro records and stuff. People get this idea of us that we're only into this particular type of club rap.
Bill: Yeah, it's interesting, because there's a sound that we're looking for, so if the sound's not out there, you either have to change lanes or you have to try to make it. I think we've done it, but it was a tough process. In past years it was like there was hundreds of tracks to choose from, and now it's like we've spent so much time, we went through hundreds of mixtapes in the process of this.
Jimmy: So much time on DatPiff and LiveMixtape and Bandcamp and artist's websites and all kinds of stuff.
Fundo: A lot of stuff that has been coming out, even in this last year, sounds the same as what we did on the last mix. We can't continue making the same kind of thing. I know all four of us want to keep going higher and higher up and get as far away as possible from sounds that we've used before. Not necessarily some artists, but the way that songs have been made in 2013.
Bill: There was a lot of amazing stuff that came out this last year, just the amount that was easily obtainable that fit what we all feel is "Cryphy," that stuff was not in abundance. A lot of great albums came out this last year, but we have to do some maneuvering to find those particular tracks that we felt like should be in this mix, and keep the energy where we love to have it.
You guys are well known for dropping surprise twists at these anniversary parties. Can you give us any previews or teasers of what people might be able to expect? Any hints for the faithful?
Fundo: Yeah, get your presale tickets! [laughs]
Bill: I will say that if they showed up on our mix as a special feature, there's probably a good chance you might see 'em do something at our show.
Jimmy: I'll say that if they've been watching True Detective, they might have some clues, you know what I'm sayin.
Bill: There's a spoiler alert on our mixtape, MaLLy does reveal some information about House of Cards, just be on the lookout for that, cover your ears. He kind of ruined it for me, I had never seen the show and I had to Google search it. We might have to come out with a censored version of the mix without that line right there. I'm cool with MaLLy but he's on alert.
Special thanks to Jack Spencer for his assistance with this piece.
Get Cryphy 6th Anniversary at the First Avenue Mainroom, Friday, March 7th. 9pm. 18+, $8/$12. Info and Tickets.
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