Get Familiar: Cawd Slaydaz
Cawd Slayaz is the emerging project from two titans in Amsterdam's music community. Max Abysmal & Hugo de Naranja met at the legendary Red Light Radio, a pivotal part of the neighbourhood Patta calls home. During the pandemic, they found themselves taking the roads less travelled amidst a global pandemic and social uprising in their host country of Colombia. Bridging together two lifetimes' worth of musical experiences as well as inviting locals to tell the stories that need to be told, they surpassed their goals of creating an EP and have crafted a debut LP together called "Totál" on Frigio Records. Spawned out of collaboration, this latest adventure capsules a moment in time when the social climates around the world seemingly couldn't be tenser. We took some time to sit down with Hugo and Max to get familiar with this new project. Cawd Slaydaz debut record is out now on Frigio Records and to mark the occasion we have a premier of their brand new music video for the track 'Real G' featuring LoMaasBello directed by Jeroen Dankers & Aukje Dekker.
What earlier adventures in audio led to you becoming sound practitioners?
Hugo: When I was around 14 years old, I started my first band. We were discovering our instruments, and what we could do with them. Hardcore and Punk music was our inspiration. I just always kept doing that. These days I still play in punk bands but lately, I am working on producing a lot of electronic music. I guess my journey with Red Light Radio exposed me to a lot of variation and inspired me to make things outside of the realms of just punk and metal music.
Max: For as long as I can remember, I have been obsessed with music and sound in general. From experimenting with my childhood friends during primary school in my first bands, I eventually learnt how to record my guitar at an early age. I would work on my songwriting every day and then upload them to Facebook. This all took place before I even had a digital audio workspace. As I carried on discovering the wider spectrum of music, I applied for music school and started studying at S.A.E in Amsterdam and have never stopped experimenting since.
You have a very gritty sound on this latest record, so for the gear nerds out there, can you let us know what you’re working with?
Max: This project that we have worked on together was made in a pop-up studio in Bogotá, Colombia. We had an empty art space, with a table and just hooked up all the gear we had. It was hard to bring everything from Amsterdam so we also borrowed a few synthesizers and instruments.
Hugo: We also bought some Colombian traditional instruments and tweaked their sounds into something new. It was all very low budget, so not too much for the gear nerds but just a lot of good energy!
Your energy for creation is exceptionally infectious, how do you stay so motivated to create?
Max: For me, my main motivation to create has always been the constant flow of ideas and thoughts I have about music. Everything from cover photos to video ideas seems to pop up every night. Sometimes is a melody that I can't stop humming while I'm riding around on my bike. Just the idea of creating something is a perpetual mental state for me. I'm always in the mind state to make.
Hugo: Collaboration is king for me. To share ideas and learn new things doing it. In all the projects I do, collaboration is always involved. Working with different people is what motivates me to create more, and more new things.
What journey took you to where you are, in terms of the aesthetics that you appreciate in music?
Hugo: I have an insatiable appetite for all things underground. I guess I would say that this started out with punk music before expanding into metal, hip-hop and all that was going on in various squats in the Netherlands. I spent a lot of my formative years going to squats and illegal raves. Programming talent in these spaces from crust-punk to electro really gave me my place. Freedom, distortion and experiments are what I appreciate most in life, and so does it for music.
Max: These days, I still feel like I am on my journey. My tastes and interests are ever-changing. I can without a doubt in my mind say that I never enjoyed the mainstream sounds I was forced to listen to on the radio and always leaned towards the more obscure and depressing side of things also when it came to aesthetics but this force-fed pop I had endured as a child has given me a subconscious appreciation for a catchy hook or well-made melody. I think this also plays an important role in my taste and style.
How did this latest project come about?
Hugo: Max and I have been playing as DJs a lot in Colombia and during the pandemic, our favourite art & music spot in Bogotá called KB started to use their space as an artists-in-residency. They invited us to make music in one of their spaces and we couldn’t be happier to return to Colombia and work on something new.
Max: The goal was to make an EP and maybe get some local guests on the EP, but in the end, we made a full-length album with 11 amazing tracks with 10 incredible Colombian guest artists.
What drew you to Colombia?
Hugo: With Red Light Radio’s trips to South America, I got introduced to Colombia and we hosted many broadcasts all over the country. Max joined the production team on many of these trips. Colombia has so many incredible talents and we invested a lot of time in organizing broadcasts to give emerging artists a platform to get worldwide exposure, which hasn’t been easy for Latin artists. We love Colombia, the music, the culture, and the people and it has been a pleasure working on music in a country with such an incredible musical heritage. Also to work with the talents and legends we discovered on our trips has been a dream coming true.
I heard it was quite tense at street level while you were there, what was going down and how did it affect your trip?
Max: Literally on the day of arrival big protests started all over the country as Paro Nacional, blocking infrastructure and making a voice against the government for many reasons. It was a turbulent and emotional time with lots of protests and brutal police violence.
Hugo: In solidarity, we took part in many protests and tried to contribute in a musical way as well. This resulted in recordings with local activists during the residency and the pop-up music studio was a great escape for artists to collaborate on something positive.
Being on the road for music projects, you would have been around a lot of locals. Who from the scene over there are you hyped about?
Hugo: It seems like the Latin music scene is lately more focused on their own talents and legends. Instead of getting artists from abroad, they push locals and that’s amazing. I’ve hyped about so many Colombians, but let’s name a few in different fields, they are all favourites; The DJ I like you to know about is Sergio Iglesias, Producer Filmmaker, Live act Meridian Brothers, Record Label Tratratrax, Visual Artist Juan Uribe, Photographer Gabriela Molano, Fashion Designer Diamantina Arcoiris and so many more.
Max: I think Hugo covered this very well, naming everyone I wanted to mention. Although I have to give a special shout-out to my favourite DJ in the game; Bclip!
How did Danika get into the mix?
Hugo: Next to a police station in Bogotá there was a performance going on. A protest about police violence against transgender people and Danika took part in the performance. We were impressed by her voice and performance and invited her to our studio to play along on the record. She makes amazing music under her alias LoMaasBello and she killed it on one of our tracks on the album called Real G.
What is Danika's musical background and what are some other projects that she has worked on?
Hugo: She just recently started doing music and has quite some music out already as LoMaasBello. We together have the Real G track on our album and recorded a music video for it as well when she was in Amsterdam (premiered today!). We also recorded 5 new tracks together in Amsterdam and will hopefully release this EP in early 2023.
Beyond the music, what else did you get up to while you were there?
Hugo: We did a social project with homeless people in Santa Fé and created music with talented rappers from this rough neighbourhood. We also made a music video in a little village, which still needs to come out. We made the soundtrack for a runway show as well. We actually only do music stuff when we are in Colombia.
You both make music but are also DJs, how do the two expressions intertwine and diverge from each other?
Max: To be honest I have trouble combining the two. My style of producing and my style as a DJ are similar in way of diversity but in terms of expression quite the opposite. I also never seem to play my own productions during sets either.
Hugo: After all these years of DJing I still find it uncomfortable receiving attention and credits for playing other people's music, ha! I rather play my own music, a setlist of my own songs and people can take it or leave it. I’m nervous about what could work best for a crowd with a USB stick with thousands of options. I prefer playing live so much more, but together with Max I always enjoy playing B2B DJ sets and mixing Trap with Punk and EBM.
What projects have you been working on that we can see in the upcoming future?
Max: The next EP together with LoMaasBello we have been recording in my studio the last month and I also have a few personal projects I am working on including a new alias that will hopefully see the light early next year.
Hugo: I’m working on a solo album, with obviously a lot of collaborations.
And of course the EP with Max & LoMaasBello we are finishing and will be out as soon as it can be!