PJ Katz is one of those rare talents.
The type of dude that makes everyone around him better just by being him.
He is like the Scottie Pippen of the rap game, allowing the MCs he works with to get their fully Michael Jordan on.
We first covered PJ a while back with his Jazz/Fusion thingy, Papa Nucc, as our Bandcamp Artists of the Week. Since then we have been excitedly featuring leaks from his album 92 Renault Music which drops tomorrow, as well as the most recent video for the song Marshall Applewhite.
PJ is fucking killing it right now. Though he is a short fellow, his music sounds like it comes from a fellow standing about 7 feet tall, 5 feet wide and 17 inches deep…yes code.
We recently sat down with PJ to discuss his approach to music, his new album and future projects.
You can pre-order his album 92 Renault Music here.
SYFFAL: We featured you a while back in your Papa Nucc iteration as a Bandcamp Artist of the week, since then you have been making the rounds in the hip hop world, killing it on the production side, Are you trying to make the rest of us feel like assholes because we just aren’t that talented? Probably not, just our insecurities, but seriously, how the Fuck did you get so talented?
PJ Katz (PJ): My dad was a musician so we had a drum set in the house. While the kids in the neighborhood were out riding bikes or playing Pole Position, I was home banging out on the drums and listening to Zappa records. In middle school I switched instruments at least 3 times before I realized that playing the sax was the only way to have a girl notice me. I started playing guitar in a Metallica cover band, back to drums and then eventually messing with my dad’s turntable. So, I think being exposed to every instrument and knowing what to do with them to make them sound good together equals “Talent”.
SYFFAL: Obviously you are a wildly talented musician, how do you think that being able to create the kind of music that most people sampled, has helped you with making hip hop, vice versa?
PJ: It wasn’t until I really got into Hip Hop did I start to listen to more Jazz. That’s when it really hit me, that in order to understand HipHop music you really have to study the roots of other musical genres. Hip Hop is really the only type of music that is born from someone else’s shit. I love rap music first and foremost because I enjoy creating music from samples. I can use my skills as a musician to recreate chord arrangements, add strings and recognize keys to add basslines, etc.
SYFFAL: Your album 92 Renault Music is fucking awesome, it very much as the feel of a modern day Soul Survivor, what were you hoping to convey with 92 Renault?
PJ: This was my first dive back into making music after an extended break from anything studio related. It was an opportunity to make an album with some dope mc’s over tracks that I would have produced in the 90’s but with some current flavor shaved over the top. I hope that fans of good music recognized the musical aspects of the production while getting familiar with some up and coming artists.
SYFFAL: You worked with a shit ton of artists on 92 Renault, some known, others not so know, but one that stood out in my mind was Gorilla Tao, you guys sound incredible together. Are there plans for a future project with you guys?
PJ: Most definitely. He has been in the studio with his group Iron Bar Collective they have been touring as well but I just finished up the tracks that will make our EP. He’s an incredible talent dude and it requires some filthy slap. I can say that I worked up some of the craziest beats for him. Sample heavy crack. Very excited about working with him on this.
SYFFAL:: You are releasing 92 Renault Music on cassette, I have found that a lot of labels are doing the cassette thing now, do you see this as a sort of short term nostalgia trip, or is there something more to it? My friends at Crash Symbol Records claim the sound is superior? Would you agree?
PJ: I would agree. One thing I hate about digital music is that is prone to sounding sharp and flat on the low end. I love a warmer, noisier source. Bring back the 8 track son!
SYFFAL: Speaking of cassettes, you and I both come from the era of tapes, what is your most fond tape memories (personally i loved the smell of a cassette - weird I know)?
PJ: That is weird but I enjoy the smell of gasoline and horse crap so there’s that. I’m thinking back to the numerous times I used to sit by my boom box and wait until M.A.R.R.S. “Pump up the Volume” came on to record it. Kids today will never have that moment.
SYFFAL: What are the 3 tapes you wore out and had to buy multiple times?
SYFFAL: Know what I miss, the long boxes on CDs, do you think their is a future world that they might come back? I used to make posters out of them, especially the Ice-T ones, because of Darlene. Who is more smashable, Darlene or Coco? Your selection will say everything about your personality.
PJ: I vote to have long box CD’s back on the rack with Coco in the white rubber band as the focus for the art work. Even Kids Bop would have Coco on the cover.
SYFFAL: MMmmmhhhmmm. I know you are slated to work on a ton of hip hop records over the coming months, is there any plan to dive back into the Papa Nucc stuff?
PJ: I don’t think so. Right now its Hip Hop.
SYFFAL: This question might seem odd considering this interview is about you, but you are one of the few people I know who has heard the new Elsphinx stuff, to me it is genre redefining stuff. What is your take on how awesome it is?
PJ: It’s awesome. This album he is working on now is so fresh. I hear a lot of indie artists/acts out today and its hard to stay with them unless the production is stellar. In my opinion El's flow and content should be mentioned in the same breath as Homeboy Sandman or Talib Kweil. He takes you to places with his songs and that’s what makes a good artist.
SYFFAL: So what is on the radar for PJ Katz?
PJ: I’m working on 5 projects right now. Gorilla Tao’s EP,Sev Statik EP and full length, a fancy instrumental project with a dope beat maker named LoKi and an album with the former child star Alaska from the rap group Hanger 18. I want to continue to spend more time with my live Duo “Fat Buckle” doing improv sets that are rooted in HipHop,Jazz and Fusion.
SYFFAL: Please promote anything non-your music related that you would like to promote?
YOU CAN PRE-ORDER 92 RENAULT MUSIC HERE: