As Yet Untitled

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Seattle Sound - The Makrosoft

Deep in the heart of Georgetown, two brothers are figuring out the world's funkiest riff. They've got hours of samples, performed by musicians well known and not, all of which will soon be edited down into a deep, silken pocket. These are the men of Makrosoft, Aja West and Cheeba, a charmed duo that not only produces some of Seattle's finest cuts but does so with some of the Northwest's best and the nation's finest players.


More after the jump.
An edited version of this piece will appear in Seattle Sound


At 11:00 AM, Blogger Tyson said...

"There was a generation of musicians that were all into funky jazz, from Reggie Watts to Skerik," says Aja over the background chatter of their neighborhood bar. "I connected with a lot of them while I was working a bunch of temp jobs in Seattle. I met them at a really early age, so they'd come over and I'd sample them. And then when that blew up, when hip-hop became more mainstream, they realized how cool that really was, that funk fusion."

Although it was to become their calling card, it took some time for the rest of the music world to catch up. In the interim, Aja worked for Conan O'Brien as a music assistant, picking up musicians and occasionally starring in a sketch (if you remember a wet-suited man in a big bowl of chili, you remember Aja); Cheeba for the Dust Brothers, producing albums for Beck and Santana; and both somehow managed, at the still-standing Neverending Story sets in Germany, to ride Falcor, a fact documented with pictures.

Nowadays, back home in Seattle, they're easy-going and without a hint of the contentious brotherly rivalry that often hampers other sibling-based bands.

"We've always done our separate projects, but we've always been close," says Cheeba. "The first thing we did together was in 2000, a remix for the Fight Club soundtrack that only appeared on the European and Japanese version of the soundtrack."

"They asked us to do it, and we quickly cranked out a version that they liked so much they said not to bother with another," adds Aja. "When that came out, we ended up with a cult-like fan-base."

A fan-base that has since expanded in the wake of multiple releases documenting their love of tight, elliptical funk. The same fans that occasionally become part of the Makrosoft collective.

"Happy accidents are responsible for large portions of our albums. Someone will say to us, 'I'd love to get on your album,' and we're like, 'come on over, throw something down," says Aja. "The guy who just moved to Seattle and whose drumming is the shit, we need to find that guy. Or someone at a party who says 'I play cello but could never play on your records,' that's the person you hire."

"Any musician who is out there and ready to play some funk music, should contact us," adds Cheeba. "If we don't find them, they can find us."

Later, as if pre-planned, a random patron, having overheard the conversation, will drop by the table to discuss a possible collaboration.

"That's how it happens," says Aja.

Fortunately, Cheeba and Aja don't always have to rely on luck for players. Among the musicians who continue to contribute to the Makrosoft sound are David Mullenova, Daniel Gould, Zack Price, Alex Westcoat, and Barry Corliss, among many, many others.

"There are great musicians in Seattle. Even when we were based in L.A., we'd still come back up here to work with people. We still try, on every album, to do some work in Seattle, L.A., and another country, if possible," says Aja. "We're both computer based. He [Cheeba] uses Pro Tools, and I'm a die-hard Cubase guy. It's portable, so a lot of the players won't see each other during the recording.

"At one of our release parties, our horn section ended up meeting each other for the first time," says Cheeba. "Seattle just has a bunch of really down-to-earth people who are looking to play on interesting projects."

And it's one of these first interesting projects that ends our conversation as the waitress announces last call.

"I was in high school, and I hear Reggie Watts on the radio. It's amazing, so I call him up," says Aja. "We were cold-calling people. We were salesmen for the funk."

And, you might easily argue, they still are.

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