Inspired by the cut-and-paste hip-hop and electronica of DJ Shadow, Scott Herren, otherwise known as Prefuse 73, has made a name for himself by composing beat-heavy songs that feature hard-to-place samples and smooth, almost R&B-esque melodies. Through numerous singles, full length albums, production collaborations, and even under different alias' like Savath & Savalas, Herren has become one of the more innovative and sought after producers in independent hip-hop—pioneering a genre oft referred to as "glitchhop"—prompting Popmatters.com to say that he makes "meticulously constructed and flawlessly engineered music."
Guillermo Scott Herren was born in Miami, Florida, and raised by his Catalan father and Irish/Cubana mother in Atlanta, Georgia. Early on, Herren's mother promoted Scott's interest in music, by, as he's said in interviews, "forcing" him to play a musical instrument. He told the Phoenix New Times, "She was trying to keep me out of trouble and keep me focused. And I played everything from piano to drums to guitar. I never really stuck with any one particular instrument. And looking back on it, I'm really grateful for that experience."
Herren's childhood exposure to many different styles of music would prove important when he began writing music himself, as he told Pitchforkmedia.com that his time spent at the local roller rink would turn him on to old school hip-hop like the Fat Boys, Kurtis Blow and Rakim, before his sister introduced him to punk music. His mother's influence would also prove to be integral, as Herren explained to Pitchforkmedia.com, "My mother would take me to jazz concerts in the park and everybody was smoked out. She gave me the intro. I started on the violin, like Suzuki method, then the piano that I retained." It was hip-hop, however, that really made an impact on Herren, calling it his "doorway to all music, the first thing I got into on my own."
As he got older, Herren's musical vocabulary was expanding at a rapid rate, as he started to get curious about electronic music—though it didn't resonate with him in the way many of his fans might assume. He told Junkmedia.com, "The first shit I got into was Mouse on Mars and Squarepusher. I wasn't into electronic music. I'm still kinda not, but it's influential in its own way, you know? When I first heard it, I heard the hip-hop in it. You know, back in the day when you first heard experimental electronic music you heard all the hip-hop elements."
With a large palette of musical influences at his exposure, dominated by hip-hop, energized by punk rock, curious about electronica and schooled on jazz, Herren began his career working in commercial studios in Atlanta, producing hip-hop tracks for many Dirty South rappers. But, he soon felt the urge to begin working on music of his own, as he was hard at work amassing a collection of second-hand instruments. He toldJunkmedia.com, "When I first started I just started collecting hand-me-down instruments—drum machines, drums—and I just made stuff. It wasn't even beats. Well it was, but it was like shit. You're making music with what you have." What he did have, though, was the impetus to move out of Atlanta to go to school, winding up in New York City. He told Junkmedia.com,"I was living here [in New York City] on Suffolk Street. I was living in the smallest apartment. I was making these beats and they just sucked." Though he was down on his own rudimentary attempts at making beat-centric music, he still persevered, even while he was a student. "I was in school, so I really had to make the decision to get serious about it. It wasn't going to be a hobby, I wasn't going to be one of those people like 'Well, I got this four-track or whatever.' It was like every day I played. I dove right into it and I focused. Starved myself. Did everything I had to do just to get there."
Herren's first release was under the name Delarosa & Asora, called Sleep Method Suite, and released in 1997 on Clockwise Records. Largely influenced by the glitchy work of Aphex Twin and Squarepusher, the release would hint at the layering and complexity that would rear its head on his future releases. He followed the record up, three years later, with his first release under the Savath & Savalas name, 2000's Folk Songs for Trains, Trees & Honey (Hefty Records/Warp)—a moody work of jazzy numbers that focused more on Herren's ambient side. Although another Delarosa & Asora album, Agony Pt. 1, was released in 2001 on Schematic Records, Herren's first made a splash with Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives, his debut release as Prefuse 73, released on Warp Records that same year. Featuring a contribution from the Sea and Cake's Sam Prekop, Vocal Studies was largely a glitch-filled representation of instrumental (with occasional buried and manipulated rhymes) hip-hop, echoing the sample-heavy work of DJ Shadow's Endtroducing..., but grooved on a sound all it's own. Stylusmagazine.com said, "Herren has fully integrated the glitchy IDM [intelligent dance music] instrumentation of Delarosa and morphed it completely into hip-hop. Herren injects the tracks with groove and soul, while still using all of his kicks and synths from his previous work. He also inserts old jazz horn and piano samples, along with excellent turntable work."
Following the release of Vocal Studies, experimental and instrumental hip-hop, IDM, and glitchy electronic music gained in popularity during the early parts of the new millennium, with artists like Four Tet and RJD2 releasing critically acclaimed albums. So, in 2003, the time was right for Herren to unleash his strongest collection of music to date—Prefuse 73's One Word Extinguisher (Warp Records). Prefixmagazine.com said, "For all of the revolutionary music that is thrown at the listener for just over an hour, perhaps the most satisfying component is the surprising amount of sentiment with which it's infused. From the sexy horns of 'Perverted Undertone' to the aching melody of the tremendous 'Storm Returns' (co-produced by skate-boarding legend Tommy Guerrero), to the confident bounce of the title track, the emotional range of One Word Extinguisher is staggering. It's equally perfect whether you're nodding your head at a stoplight or wrapped up in a blanket on a rainy day after a crippling breakup. It is a love letter to hip-hop crafted ransom-note style from one of the most promising artists of the genre, and it is an essential record." With so much material comprised for the release, Herren decided to release Extinguished: Outtakes for Warp that same year, a compilation of instrumental sketches and song ideas that were either previously unreleased or expanded upon during One Word Extinguisher.
For the Record . . .
Born Guillermo Scott Herren in Miami, FL; raised in Atlanta, GA.
Began career working in commercial hip-hop studios in Atlanta, GA; moved to New York City to attend college; under the name Delarosa & Asora, released first record, Sleep Method Suite, 1997; released Folk Songs for Trains, Trees & Honey under the name Savath & Sava las, 2000; released first album as Prefuse 73, Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives, 2001; released One Word Extinguisher on Warp, 2003; released Sur rounded by Silence on Warp, 2005; collaborated with the Books on Prefuse 73 Reads the Books, 2005.
Addresses: Booking—The Windish Agency, 1658 N. Milwaukee Ave., ...211, Chicago, IL 60647, phone: (312) 226-5100, fax: (251) 217-1206. Office—22 Prince St., PMB ... 313, New York, NY 10012. Web-site—Prefuse 73 Official Website: http://www.prefuse73.com.
By the time One Word Extinguisher had been released, Herren was bouncing between New York and Atlanta as his dual home bases. In 2003, however, he felt the need to explore his Spanish roots by actually moving himself to Gracias, a small city north of Barcelona in Northeastern Spain. He told the Georgetown Voice,"I had to save money, and before that there were other things that were stopping me, but I finally got up the time and the money together and the motivation together to just pick up all my stuff and put it in boxes and go."
It was in Spain that Herren completed two albums under his Savath & Savalas pseudonym, called Apropa't and Manana (both released in 2004 by Warp). Collaborating with vocalist Eva Puyuelo Muns, he said, "I like to play instruments, so Savath & Savalas is a way for me to express myself in that way, and with Prefuse it's more b-boy type stuff. It's two different methods and two different forms of expression. The two projects, they aren't actually linked at all. If someone's listening for Prefuse in Savath & Savalas they're not going to find it. It's not meant to be that way; it's not an offshoot of Prefuse. It's a very separate idea in itself."
While Savath & Savalas was critically acclaimed, it seemed that many of Herren's fans were anxious to find out what was going on with his Prefuse 73 project. 2005 proved that the wait was not going to be long, as Herren unleashed his third Prefuse 73 album, Surrounded By Silence, for Warp. Featuring a gamut of collaborations, from tried-and-true hip-hoppers like Ghostface Killah and El-P (on "Hideyaface") to Kazu of Blonde Redhead (on "We Go Our Own Way") and cut-and-paste folktronica duo the Books (on "Pagina Dos"), the album was the first time Herren let outside contributors have such an impact on his music. Dustedmagazine.com said, "Herren reaches the future through the past, returning to the lost art of emcees blessing—and passing—mics while infusing the blend with disparate styles. The Books bring banjos (who didn't see this coming?), the girls from On!Air!Library! provide bookish chic and a host of kindred spirits (Pedro, DJ Nobody) wink as they dig choice records from their crates."
As an extension of his collaboration with the Books on Surrounded By Silence, Herren released the EP Prefuse 73 Reads the Books for Warp in 2005, and was hard at work working with Claudia Deheza of On!Air-!Library! on a collaboration he praised on his website as, "literally the most beautiful and cherished things I've musically been involved in." He has also been working on a low-key side project called Piano Overlord, set to be released by Chocolate Industries in 2006.
(As Delarosa & Asora) Sleep Method Suite, Clockwise Records, 1997.
(As Savath & Savalas) Folk Songs for Trains, Trees & Honey, Hefty Records, 2000.
(As Delarosa & Asora) Agony Pt. 1, Schematic Records, 2001.
Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives, Warp, 2001.
The 92 vs. 02 Collection, Warp, 2002.
One Word Extinguisher, Warp, 2003.
Extinguished, Warp, 2003.
(As Savath & Savalas) Apropa't, Warp, 2004.
(As Savath & Savalas) Manana, Warp, 2004.
Surrounded by Silence, Warp, 2005.
(With the Books) Prefuse 73 Reads the Books, Warp, 2005.
Entertainment Weekly, July 22, 2005.
Georgetown Voice, April 22, 2004.
Interview, April 2005.
Phoenix New Times, May 19, 2005.
"Artist Profile: Scott Herren," Stylus Magazine,http://www.stylusmagazine.com/feature.php?ID=94 (August 2, 2005).
"Dusted Review: Prefuse 73," Dusted,http://www.dustedmagazine.com/reviews/2079 (August 1, 2005).
"Interview with Prefuse 73," Junkmedia,http://www.junkmedia.org/?i=759 (July 31, 2005).
"One Word Extinguisher," Prefixmag, http://www.prefixmag.com/reviews.php?page=P&a=1&rt=cd&rf=Prefuse73%20OneWordExtinguisher050603 (August 3, 2005).
Prefuse 73 Official Website, http://www.prefuse73.com/ (August 1, 2005).
"Prefuse 73: Pitchfork Interview," Pitchforkmedia,http://www.pitchforkmedia.com/interviews/p/prefuse-73-05/ (August 2, 2005).
"Review: Vocal Studies + Uprock Narratives," Stylus Magazine,http://www.stylusmagazine.com/review.php?ID=831 (August 2, 2005).
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