IN THE MIX: 7L at the Enormous Room
Freestyle music is an overlooked chapter of dance music. Born in the hot and heavy club scene of ’80s Miami and New York, freestyle blended hip-hop and electro with club house beats to make an immaculate, energetic, Latinized sound. The BLADERUNNERS are 7L (George Andrinopoulos) and the RAZOR (Steve Picardi), and they’re bringing it back. Their new CD-R megamix and 12-inch (available at www.thebladerunners.com) shows these two heads know their way around an edit block. Freestyle edits take a hip-hop or pop track and cut the vocals into shreds or turn beats back in on themselves. It’s like a party for your ears.
“Steve goes in and stutters up the vocals, all the keyboard lines, and makes them something different, extending a drumbeat — it’s a little extra flavor,” says 7L, whom we caught on the phone while he was walking around Central Park. “Taking something you know and making it new. Not replaying anything, just putting your own kind of twist.” 7L took his old friend’s library of edits and turned them into a 38-track megamix where Neneh Cherry bumps up against Kraftwerk and classic freestyle jams from Madonna and Debbie Deb are given new life. “Steve used to run my record pool, Mass Pool. One day he was like, ‘Why don’t you bring down some of your tracks and I’ll do some edits,’ and it came out nice. But when I heard the Madonna one, I was like ‘All right, do more of that!’ ”
Madge’s “Physical Attraction” is one of the highlights of the megamix, and an extended version is up on the vinyl as well. Picardi’s edits cut the vocals and beats up into a deadly stereophonic funk, and the same technique is applied throughout the 40-minute mix to well over 50 different songs. 7L: “Steve’s an old freestyle head. He does all the tape edits and dubs, and I’ll do some beats and mixing and what not. He was cool with the guys from Cutting Records back in the day; he still talks to them from time to time. Like the Latin Rascals, he’s kept in touch with those guys too over the years.”
Originally from Saugus, Picardi may have his clubbing days behind him, but he still does edits at his studio in Lynn. “He does it by eye,” says 7L. “He doesn’t use a program where you just kind of type in something. Like the Madonna thing took him 36 hours to do altogether. He’s the mind and I’m the body, to use a bad analogy. I would come up with some of the beats and making the stuff, and he mixes it down and does the edits and fine-tunes everything. It kind of works that way because it’s about me not telling him what to do and him not telling me what to do.”
Of course, edits used to be made with actual audio tape and a razor blade; you’d splice together beats. Hence “The Razor.” Picardi’s real technique comes out on the CD’s last five bonus edits and the A-side of the 12-inch (out now on Five Day Weekend Records). The Bladerunners had so much fun, they’re looking at a second release in January. “Steve’s married now and stuff like that, he’s a little better off than I am,” says Andrinopoulos with a laugh. “He’s not out doing his thing like he used to, I’m sort of his outlet to the outside word maybe. I brought him a little out of retirement I guess.”