BEATS ON THE BEACH
Los Angeleno Elvin Estela is likely the only hip-hop artist to ever cover a Monkees song. But on Pacific Drift, Estela aims to give his old favorites (like "The Porpoise Song") a boom-bap.
Despite the '60s covers, Estela's second record as Nobody isn't some retro rock set. Like Manitoba's Up in Flames, Pacific Drift is dreamy and sunshine-filled, taking the turntablism of artists like DJ Shadow to a whole 'nother level West Coast psychedelic pop. The mind-altering result is a bit like Beachwood Sparks doing hip-hop.
"Los Angles underground hip-hop will always be my roots even if I end up doing folk music someday," Estela explains, "[but] in terms of influences, the Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots wrecked my brain. To me, that is the perfect sing-along hip-hop record. The programming is insane, the bass hits as hard as the Neptunes and the songs are perfectly balanced between pretty and psychedelic."
From there, the sound of Nobody includes everything from the Beach Boys and the High Llamas (the bouncy "the Beaches on Neptune") to classic Phil Spector production ("Psilo-Psycling [Trip 'Round the Block]". But Estela is wary of genre tags: "There's always some kids enamored with the sun and sea sound of California," he says, "maybe my record represents what kids stuck with turntables, samplers and computers do to interpret the West Coast sound."
The end-result? A golden vibe passed from Brian Wilson all the way to filmmaker Paul Thomas Anderson, where the happy ending is the saddest possible. "It's LA, you know," considers Estela. "You got to take a freeway to get to beaches and canyons. It's bittersweet."
CHARLES SPANO & DALE GOLD