For the first installment of our bi-weekly Ambush Sounds series, I sat down to chat with the one and only Ill Nasty – an enigmatic, quasi-reclusive vinyl junkie who has been with us for more than ten years. The kid is a living, breathing Pandora™ station whose algorithm caters to fans of French pop music, deep soul, hip hop, and acid jazz.
You see, Nasty’s taste in music is strikingly unique and his music knowledge is as deep as it is wide. This provides a stark contrast from today’s spoon-fed music consumer. So, last week I barged in his front door to find out why he doesn’t float the mainstream and what he could teach me.
Q: Who are you and where are you from?
I.N. I go by Ill Nasty. I am a mid 80s baby born in the incredible city of Montreal. I lived outside of Toronto until I was relocated to Atlanta in the late 90s. I’ve worked for Ambush since 2001 because of my love for skateboarding. I’ve always had a natural gravitation towards electronics and technology. In 2005 I filmed The Ambush Video.
Q: So you’re a French Canadian skateboarder-turned-videographer whose got a bigger music library than YouTube. What fuels your fire to dig and who/what are some of your influences?
I.N. My grandfather was a musician who played and understood every instrument… and taught me some guitar chords. But it wasn’t until my eyes were opened to the world of skateboarding did I realize the importance it (music) would play in my life. I am passionate about what music brings to me, probably more so now than ever, because it has become the very similar feeling I would get on my skateboard. It was an outlet that allowed me to do something that I enjoyed…could focus so much on, that anything else my mind my wander on and worry, would disappear.
Q: So why vinyl? Why crate dig instead of download?
I.N. Vinyl wasn’t always my medium of choice, but it was always something I would go back to because it just sounded better than compressed, digital audio. It’s similar to watching a 16mm film, with its full richness in color, always had the distinct feel I would get from listening to a diamond scratching into plastic. Birdhouse’s THE END was the beginning of an end…
Q: Tell me about the first time you dropped a needle onto a record.
I.N. That’d be when I attempted to play Michael Jackson’s BAD on my dad’s system while my grandmother innocently babysat me..I’m guessing I would have been about 7 or 8. I remember my old man instructing me exactly how to set up the amp and system so everything runs smoothly and sounds good…well I did all the steps I remember him telling me including setting the volume to minimum and steadily going louder. So I set the volume levels to “0” which in my mind at the time had to be off…turns out, the volume levels were rated in negatives…the second I dropped the needle the blast which followed almost knocked me down the stairs and may have given my grandmother a slight heart attack…
I.N. Growing up with French being my first language, then moving to only English speaking areas, has made me appreciate the fact I can go back and vaguely understand and remember the message being sent in old French classics. So I am always on the hunt for something I may have not heard. Also, I have grown up around cars and racing so I always am sure to go through the sound effects and sports sections of stores I visit to see if I can find the old sounds of dragsters, Ferraris and Mercedes which brings me back to a time I can hear, but wasn’t able to experience. That may be why I love it so much to this day…the fact that I can pop on a record and bring me back to a time I missed.
Q: How much time you log digging for records in a given weekend?
I.N. It really depends. On average I’d say 3 hours on a Saturday and a couple on Sunday isn’t uncommon. And then I try to hit up a couple thrift stores during the week. Flea markets are hit and miss, but you never know, it’s always about what could be out there.
Q: Any advice for newbies starting their own vinyl collection?
I.N. Shop often and buy little.
Q: What are some of your favorite spots to dig around?
I.N. Lately Criminal Records ATL has been my go to spot every Saturday when I’m in town. Great group of employees, knowledgeable in all genres of music and always priced fairly.
Jim and Melissa at the Antiques on the Square has been my staple Sunday spot for years. Great selection of vinyl as well as some top of the line audio equipment…one day I’ll be able to afford it…maybe.
Full Moon Records isn’t a spot I would go to often in the beginning, but don’t let the smaller selection fool you…there are gems to be found and you can’t beat the prices.
Wuxtry is another spot I visit regularly. Great soul and jazz sections regularly restocked and isn’t afraid to sell what they come across.