Nestled next to the Hudson River in Westchester County, just north of Yonkers and a bit south of the Tappan Zee Bridge, lies Dobbs Ferry. It’s a picturesque river town, with cute restaurants, some great schools, and a budding population of musicians. My friend and collaborator Marlon “Moshe” Sobol has lived there for a few years now with his wife and two daughters, and works nearby in White Plains teaching music therapy as a music therapist at the Schnurmacher Center nursing home. I’ve sat in on his music therapy sessions before with the elderly, and they are loads of fun and very inspiring too. He’s doing amazing things over there. Recently he was recognized in the Journal News for his innovative music therapy work. Check the link to the article below…
I paid Moshe a visit last week to get a behind the scenes look at how he runs his sessions. We could not film the residents, so Moshe gave us a simulated session of sorts, pulling out a ton of instruments, and showing us first hand his music therapy style. Here’s the two part video. Enjoy…
Thanks so much Moshe and keep up the good work!!!!!
JSWISS is another one of my dudes out of Dobbs Ferry. I first met JSWISS when he performed at River Ciphers this past summer, an event Moshe and I co-hosted in Dobbs Ferry at The Rec Room (a local clothing store shout out to Bahr). JSWISS came through and ripped a really nice old school type song called “Mammoth” over a slow drum beat that Moshe hooked up for him, and it was kinda ill. Turns out the two knew each other from playing one on one at the park one day, and I guess the story goes that Moshe got schooled. Ha! Check out the performance…
I.M.R.O.B.O.T. is the first mixtape from JSWISS (see cover above), and it features original production as well as him rapping over a bunch of different old school and new era beats. It’s a cool mixtape. Here’s an interview I did with him last week. Give it a read to find out more about him and his music…
IP: For those who don’t know you, where in Westchester did you grow up? And you’re a freshman in college now right?
JS: I grew up in the tiny village of Dobbs Ferry. I lived there from age 5 up until now after I moved from Yonkers. And yeah right now I’m at THE UNC-Chapel Hill, home of the national champs in basketball and I found pretty much every other sport too. I’m definitely hyped that I’ve been able to find lots of ill MCs and producers here, which is what got me motivated to do the tape.
IP: I heard you’re nice at ball. Moshe said you schooled him in one on one.
JS: Haha yeah I can’t deny it. It’s funny cuz I knew I recognized him at the River Ciphers! But yeah, basketball was my first love before music and still is. It’s been something that’s given me my highest highs and also my lowest lows, but that’s what happens with something you love that much. Right now I’m playing club basketball at UNC and I’m trying to move up and by the time my four years is up you’ll see me with the Carolina blue on TV!
IP: Nice. So the mixtape is definitely dope. I see you made some of the beats on there yourself. What type of equipment/programs do you use to produce?
JS: I used the fruity loops demo. Meaning I gotta download it again everytime I wanna make a new beat! Actually I gotta step back and say that “Mindframe” was the first beat I made when I got to college, and I did that on my suitemates Garageband before I looked into downloading fruity loops. So, I produced four songs on the mixtape, one was produced by Jae Monee, and the rest were from songs already out there. And I do have to give a shoutout to the four track tape recorder and 15+ year old drum machine and keyboard I used to use back home!
IP: You’ve got some skillful rhymes. The one where you go through the entire alphabet bar by bar is particularly impressive. Where do you write most of your stuff? Or do you even write rhymes? People seem to be typing verses now more than ever, not that there’s anything wrong with that.
JS: I used to write only in notebooks but now that I’ve had my new iPhone for about 6 months, I mix it up and write on that sometimes if I’m out and something hits me or I’m in the studio with with no pen and book. The “Alphabet Aerobics” one was written over a year ago so that was handwritten, and believe it or not that super long final track was too even though I had the iPhone at my disposal. I know people have made fun of Drake for his incident, me included, but that’s because it was
hyped up as a freestyle so…
IP: Tell me about that last track. It’s over sixteen minutes long, with you flowing over a bunch of classic beats.
JS: Yeaaa. When I rap I always try and be creative. So on “18 Years of Greatness” I decided to rhyme straight through a beat from every year of my life, 1991-2009, with no chorus. And yea it wound up being over 16 minutes and 350 bars, and it was the most fufilling and frustrating thing I’ve done musically. I first had to download each instrumental and piece them together cohesively before I even started writing, and that took forever. The frustration of never seeming to finish writing it didn’t take away from the quality though cuz I won’t allow that, but just as the lines were coming I could tell the song was gonna be so nice, but I just had to wait and wait until I finished the whole thing. But it came out just how I wanted, it’s one of my favorites, and now I can bang out a 16 like it’s nothin!
IP: Just from listening to your mixtape, I can tell that you are a student of hip hop. I mean, not many dudes your age know about Camp Lo and stuff like that. I grew up in that early 90’s era, but I know what it’s like to dig back in time looking for music. Do you spend a lot of your time doing that? What are you listening to right now?
JS: Man I pride myself on knowing my hip hop history, that’s another reason why the “18 Years of Greatness” track fit me. I’ll go back to the ’80s with you and I know some stuff from before that too! I’d have to say that before the past year, when I’ve been hipped on some of the blogs where you can discover lesser known artists out now, I rarely listened to stuff out currently. I stayed alive having A Tribe, and The Roots and some of them Big Daddy Kane songs to listen to on the computer or iPod. Now though, I like Lupe, Blu and Pac Div and U-N-I on the west coast and some others, Nas still rapping. But believe that I got a huge old school rap playlist that never ceases to satisfy.
IP: Okay, top five albums of all time. Go.
JS: Hip Hop? In no particular order: Illmatic (Nas), Midnight Marauders (ATCQ), Do You Want More?!!!?! (The Roots), People Instinctive Travels…(ATCQ), Desire (Pharoahe Monch). Overall? No order: Illmatic, Midnight Marauders, Action Figure Party
(Action Figure Party), Emergency on Planet Earth (Jamiroquai), The Brand New Heavies (The Brand New Heavies).
IP: Okay! Got some classics in there. What’s your goal with this mixtape? Do you have one?
JS: I don’t have a clear goal. It’s free, so I’m not trying to make money. I see a lot rappers get recognized when I know I bring more to the table as an MC, so I’d like to get noticed as someone who’s really doing real hip hop, and if I do get well-known off it, take the other MCs I’ve been working with and that have supported me with me. But honestly I probably would have made this tape if only me and my parents listened to it.
IP: What’s next for JSWISS? Will we see you at the next River Ciphers? We’re hoping to have one at the start of the new year.
JS: What’s next for JSWISS has already begun, and that’s just continuing to make music, and getting better at it. I’ve already started planning out new stuff from myself and working with other MCs who you will hear about. And I’ve been asking about the River Ciphers to make sure that it goes down when I’m home from NC! When I first did it I really had no quality songs, just a lot of separate verses, but I’ve got work to share now so let’s do it!
IP: Where can we find out more about you online? Let the people know son!
JS: Ah I get to plug myself haha. I have a facebook fan page for “JSWISS” which I love to get fans on who aren’t already my facebook friends. I also have a myspace page, the url is myspace.com/jswissmammoth, and my
youtube acount is youtube.com/mammoth365. Love to get those views and feedback. And check out Stan Ipcus’ “Young Professional”, and support that Westcheddar hip hop! Peace.