Interview with Sam Sever
[Conducted in August 2005]
You might have seen him behind the decks for the Beastie Boys in the movie Tougher Than Leather, and you would have definately heard one of his Intergalactic remixes. He had worked with Run DMC and 3rd Bass (amongst a stack of others). He has major respect amongst Headz and Mo'Wax followers. He is Sam Sever.
A lot of the newer fans are probably most familiar with you through your "Fuzzy Logic" Intergalactic remix. Can you tell us a bit about Fuzzy Logic and Jonathan Hoffman?
[Photo by Victorija Juodenaite]
Fuzzy Logic was a studio / production company that me and my good friend Jonathan Hoffman were operating from 1997-1999. Jonathan was one of the original members of Downtown Science and departed from the group shortly after we were signed. Jonathan has continued to pursue music on and off, but has established himself as a proud husband and father of two beautiful children, in addition to a successful career in the film production business.
Your version was the most widely spread Intergalactic remix, appearing on more releases than any of the others mixes. How did you get the job to remix the track?
Funny enough, AdRock just called me out of the blue one day after not talking for years and asked me if I was interested in doing a remix. I said, of course, and was very grateful for the opportunity. Myself and Jonathan actually did two remixes, the first of which had too many samples to release.
Wow! Did this mix ever make it to Acetate or 12"?
Unfortunately not, because of the amount of samples that would've needed to be cleared.
Can you remember any of the samples you used in this other mix that were not included on the version that was released?
I remember using very small pieces of the following tunes and they were only in the remix one time per sample...David Bowie "Space Oddity", Rammelzee vs K-Rob "Beat Bop", Schooly D "PSK", T La Rock & Jazzy Jay "It's Yours", Run-Dmc "Jam Master Jay" plus assorted stab scratches that I'm drawing a blank on right now..
How did you end up being the DJ for the Beasties in the Tougher Than Leather movie?
I was friends with The Beastie Boys and Russell Simmons. DJ Hurricane had an acting part in the film and I was asked to fill in as I did a couple of times prior for shows opening up for P.I.L. (in late 85' early 86'?)
How did supporting Public Image go? You would have been performing to old Sex Pistols punks alongside avant-garde ethusiasts. What sort of set were you playing?
I remember the set consisting of "She's On It", "Slow & Low", "Hold it Now" and "Desperado". I also remember that I rocked my Roland TR909 drum machine live and Schooly D's "Gucci Time" when they free styled. Oh shit, It's all coming back to me... P.I.L.'s people were kind of wack to us, so in turn we snuck in their dressing room and added a little gourmet touch to their sandwiches ; ) and on some really funny memory shit....we took the Amtrak to Philliy and went to the bar / food car...the Amtrak breakfast sandwich was listed on the menu as "two eggs, ham and cheese served aboard an english muffin" which started a round of snaps on the amtrak employee like "can I have a coca cola served aboard a cup with ice please", "can I get ham & cheese served aboard a hard roll accompanied by a pickle please" and "I'd like some mustard served aboard that pretzel please" etc. Funny as hell to me at the time!!! I was probably stoned. Maybe you had to be there?
Did you catch many of the early Run DMC and Beastie Boys shows?
Yes. On numerous occasions in large and small venues. Danceteria, The Roxy, MTV New Years Party 1987, Madison Square Garden among other great shows.
Any memorable moments from those early gigs? We heard that the MTV New Years Eve Party ended in a brawl after someone stole one of the Beastie's microphones.
I remember getting really drunk that night (MTV 87") and everything being a blur? That night was definitely a major turning point for The Beastie Boys being exposed to the masses on MTV.
Did you ever get involved with the whole Beastie Boys versus 3rd Bass rivalry?
Not really, even though I was stuck in the middle of it. Besides the disses by both groups in songs, there was never really any beef, in the true sense of the word. For the record, I never approved of Pete and Serch dissing the Beastie Boys considering they were always cool with me, but they seemed to have their own reasons for doing so, which I never really fully understood? I think the whole thing was retarded!
What ever happened to the Zone Alone 12" [MW050]? The fact that this only ever made it as a promo version [MW050DJ] leaves a lot of the hardcore MoWax collectors stressed at not being able to complete their collections. And Is it true that there were only 5x copies pressed?
I haven't dealt with Mo Wax since 1995. I just found out recently about the "Zone Alone" release or test pressings myself??? I've also never received a royalty statement or money for "What's That Sound?" or any other songs of mine they've included on their Headz compilations, etc. Live and learn.
Are you serious!? "Do You Understand?" features on "Headz 2A" which is a very popular MoWax release (especially on the 4x12" format). It has some rare cuts on there like an Instrumental version of "Bodhisattvaa Vow" by the Beastie Boys which you can't get anywhere else. They had to have made some cash on that release. So there is no love loss between yourself and James Lavelle then? (By the way, that Zone Alone 12" has been valued at around US$150-200, assuming you could even find a copy in the first place).
"Zone Alone" was a follow up tune to "What's that sound?". The 2nd 12" I compiled for them in 95 contained a few tunes "Zone Alone", "Lost In Space" and "Beautiful Thing". Your guess is as good as mine as to what tunes are on the test pressing? I submitted 12 songs to Mo Wax. I wouldn't be surprised if they started popping up one day? I really don't have much to say about James Lavelle or Mo Wax except I appreciated what they were releasing at the time and their brief support of my project in 94-95. It would be nice to get a check or a royalty statement from them someday, but I will not hold my breathe?
[NB: After sending some MP3s to Sam, we found out the track listing for the Zone Alone 12" contains 'Zone Alone' and 'Lost In Space']
Number 5 in the Grand Royal records "Blow Up Factor" series was to feature Tru-Bash with the tracks "Can I Eat?" and "Whut It Looks Like", and is another record that never made it past Test Pressing stage. Apparently Adrock produced one side, now did you work on this record as well? You did produce their underground hit "More Cheese / Too Bad Brovas".
I didn't work on the "Can I Eat" record, though I stopped by to visit my old friends Bash & AdRock one day while they were working on the song. I did produce "More Cheese" along with Jonathan Hoffman at Fuzzy Logic studio.
You have also done work for corporations including Viacom, MTV, VH1, ABC etc. How does this differ from producing and mixing albums and singles?
I don't do jingles or anything. Fortunately I've been able to license some of my original music to networks, commercials, etc. and actually find it cool that some of my music, weird beats, etc, that would otherwise be collecting dust get a chance to be heard.
Some guy wrote to us a while back claiming we had the wrong picture of you on our site and that you were in fact black and not white?! Just to confirm - that is you we have a picture of right?
Looking at your body of work from 1985 to now, it's 20 years of solid work. That's pretty impressive. What's left? What are the future plans?
Honestly, feeling stronger than ever musically and production wise. Working with new talented artists and starting my own label. Thanks again for the help and support.