Los Angeles label Stones Throw launched in 1996 as a headquarters for indie hip-hop and evolved into so much more. New additions to the roster now showcase locally: lost funk great (Prophet, with DJ Novena), R&B outsider (Stimulator Jones), synth-pop weirdo (Jerry Paper), next-gen beatsmith (Mndsgn), and hip-hop jazz soloist (Kiefer). We spoke with Kiefer Shackelford in advance of the traveling showcase.
Austin Chronicle: What’s your live setup like?
Kiefer Shackelford: I have a Korg Kronos and I’m triggering beats and loops on my laptop, but I’m basically just playing piano for an hour.
AC: On the new album Happysad, what’s the primary piano you use?
KS: My upright piano. I don’t use any software instruments; all of my keyboard parts are recorded live. Everything has to be done right on the first take.
AC: Why do you prefer the upright?
KS: You can hear that it’s a real instrument. The thing that can be stale about normal hip-hop instrumentals is when they loop four bars for four minutes. It’s like the person who made it hit the space bar and walked away. So with the upright recorded acoustically, there’s a transience and presence throughout that makes it feel like I’m there with the listener the whole time, like it’s live music.
AC: What does it mean to you to be a jazz musician in 2018?
KS: It’s knowing history, the spirit and the sound, but also trying to find a way to take the music further. The jazz sound of today will have elements that weren’t considered jazz yesterday. All of the greats were always doing things that were non-jazz. Miles Davis didn’t even call his music jazz. He called it social music.
Sat., Oct. 27