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Name: Adam Bernard
Home: Fairfield, Connecticut, United States
About Me: Entertainment journalist with 15+ years of experience. Supporter of indie music. Lover of day baseball, fringe movies, & chicken shawarma. Part time ninja. Nerdy, but awesome.
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Artist Of The Week - Invisible Bullies
Monday, May 03, 2010

I first met Idris Tate of Invisible Bullies back in 2007 when he was drumming for Rue Melo and they, along with the rest of the band, were on tour with Lyrics Born. We hung out a couple times after shows and stayed in touch. A few months ago he told me he had just finished up his own project, under the name Invisible Bullies, with bass player Doug Gild. The album, Westworld Volume 1, is a decidedly hip-hop effort, and this week I caught up with the southern California native to find out more about the project, how long it had been in the works, and his reaction when he found out Rue was moving back to France.

Adam Bernard: Start everyone off with a little background info. What’s your path in the music world been like up to this point? 
Idris Tate: I started out as a kid playing drums, but the funny thing is I never played anywhere, just at home. My mom used to buy me these cheap acrylic drums from the Sears catalog and I used to bash those up every year, trying to force her to buy me real drums, but that never happened. Once I became a teenager I gave up the drums and got into rapping and producing with my cousin. We would raid my mom’s old records and make beats on an Ensoniq 16 keyboard that my cousin took a loan out to buy. I had no idea at the time what it meant to produce, or what made sense, but we were heavy into A Tribe Called Quest and the Native Tongues family, so we basically copied that sound, but with a West coast flavor, which was not cool living in a city like Long Beach where gangsta rap was just blowing up. We got frustrated and decided to move along and do something else. I decided to go to college, then, by luck, I saw this drum set in a pawn shop I was actually trying to get a job at and ended up buying it instead of applying for the job. That's what got me back on the path that I'm on now.

Adam Bernard: I’ve always known you as Idris Tate, amazing drummer. While you were doing all that drumming, was this Invisible Bullies project in the back of your mind?
Idris Tate: Yeah, man. I had the IBees on my mind back as far as 92-93. The whole time I’ve been touring and recording, I always was thinking of doing the Invisible Bullies project, I just never had the time to really concentrate on it. Also, one of the problems of being known as a drummer is that most artists you work for only see you as that, and most drummers don't do a lot of producing, so when I tell an artist that I produce music on my own they kinda don't believe it, or just brush me off, or in some cases are brainwashed by their current producer so they don't wanna hear anything else at the moment.

Adam Bernard: What about you is invisible and what about you is a bully?
Idris Tate: The invisible part is the fact that the music kinda comes from this unknown entity, like who are they? What do they do? The bully part is mainly smacking people over the head with good music and forcing them to listen to it, plain and simple. I always think that good music is good music no matter what form, or how many times it's played on the radio, but in this day and age you have to hit people in the mouth to get there attention and that's what I'm trying to do.

Adam Bernard: What you’re hittin people in the mouth with right now is Westworld Volume 1. Tell me about the album. Is this purely a west coast thing?
Idris Tate: It's sorta a west coast thing. It came about with my obsession with the 1973 movie Westworld. I originally was going to do this CD with one artist and we were going to only do five songs. Every song was going to be this hybrid, hip-hop, rock, futuristic thing, but then I was like, hmmm, I don't think that should be my first showing as a producer. Plus, I didn't have the right artist to pull that off, so what I did was get some of the best unknown emcees in LA and kept the concept of Westworld, so technically it's an homage to the West coast as well as saying “hey, we’re still here doing our thing out West,” but not in a beef/battle kinda way.

Adam Bernard: As you mentioned, you work with a number of vocalists on the album. Was it a conscious decision to stick to production and not lend your own vocals to the project?
Idris Tate: Oh yeah, I knew I did not want to be on it vocally. The only thing I wanted was to control the concepts of the songs. Any time I would send out a beat I would also give the artist a concept to write about, as well. For instance you got "CL Provider," which is about CraigsList hookers, which I think is an interesting topic to say the least, and “We Won't Drown,” which is about female emcees on the grind, and not giving up no matter how many people may try to drown them out. I made sure I had my homegirls Nebluv and Medusa on at least one track together on the CD. I wish I had the time and funding to get them on a lot more.

Adam Bernard: Rue Melo is also on one song, “So Fly (my j’s).” You had been drumming for her for a few years when she up and moved back to France. Since she’s on the album I’m guessing there’s no beef between you two, right? What went down with that whole situation? 
Idris Tate: Awww man, yeah, Rue is my girl. She’s kinda like my littile sister in a way. As far as her situation, I'm not to sure what happened. You know industry rule #4080, so I’m sure that could have played a part, but I don't really know. Sometimes, though, it's just timing, because she had a good look, dope band and good people behind her, but... My biggest regret is that I didn't work with her on more tracks production-wise. Regarding “So Fly,” I originally did that song for her second CD because we used to always jam during rehearsal and she would kinda put this Air Jordan idea over some drum beats I would do and we would say it would be cool to do a song about Jordans from a girl’s perspective, so I went to the lab and did that beat just for her, and she was like, OK, I’m gonna write it. We did that song in one take, in about two hours. Just me, her, Gil Levy on the boards, and my boy Coexist, who came through with a one take feature. That was the thing I liked about working with her most. If she had an idea we could get it done without BS being involved. I also had more songs I wanted to present to her and her manager, but once I got everything worked out as far as studio time and the right beats I got a call saying she was headed back to France. In the back of my mind I wanted to say “hey, don't go, just work with me and we could make a whole CD/mixtape and just put it out on our own,” cause to be honest I really felt that her style fit perfectly with what I was trying to accomplish with "So Fly," but for some reason I didn't say anything when I got that call. I don't know, maybe I was just kinda shocked cuz I never for one second of the four years we spent together thought that we wouldn't blow up in some way, but there is no beef at all. We still communicate by email as much as possible and if she called and said “hey, I'm headed back,” I would, without a doubt, work with her again.

Adam Bernard: What’s your ultimate vision for Invisible Bullies?
Idris Tate: I would like to continue to put out full albums with guest artists. Hopefully the level of known names will grow. The closest artist I can mention that kinda has the same concept would be Danger Mouse. He works with a bunch of artists, from MF Doom, to The Black Keys, to Ceelo. That would be my ultimate vision for Invisible Bullies. I'm also trying to figure out a way to brand it with my drumming. I just did this really cool show with DJ Skee called Skeetox and we had a full band playing over vocals. We also brought out special guest like Snoop Dogg, Mike Posner, and Ya Boy. I want to brand Invisible Bullies to the point where when I get gigs they’ll be “featuring Idris Tate of Invisible Bullies.”

Adam Bernard: Just in case they’re reading, shout out a few artists you’d love to work with, and why they interest you as potential musical partners.
Idris Tate: I would definitely love to work with Camp Lo. I truly believe they are an innovative group and criminally slept on. Also Murs, because he’s a different style of LA rapper. Proper, who you featured a couple weeks ago, is just dope to me, and he’s on the come up. Saigon. I don't think I even need to explain that one! Kooley High from North Carolina. I also hope to work with Freddie Gibbs, or The Knux, who I think are just on some whole other type steez! 

Related Links

Website: invisiblebullies.com
Facebook: Invisible Bullies
Website: skeetox.com


posted by Adam Bernard @ 7:30 AM  
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