Hey, hey, hey! Fat Albert… Einstein in the house! For today’s edition of Behind The Boards, Backseat Mafia is joined by Fat Albert Einstein, the Los Angeles-based multi-instrumentalist, producer and all-around sound maven. Fat Al’s catalogue is wide and deep, featuring aural enticements that range from bass heavy dub sounds to high desert, soothing ambient music, as well as dusky instrumental hip hop. Fatty is a one-man band; if you heard a sound on a Fatty record, Al probably made it. He plays play drums, bass, guitar, keys, sax, percussion and melodica.
In 2012, Fat Al released Dub O’ Dup, with Kabanjak, which mixes Lee “Scratch” Perry type dub with chill electronic soundscapes. Fat Al and Clutchy Hopkins dropped the full length High Desert Low Tide, in 2017, an amalgam of percolating keyboards and percussion, and zen goodness. 2016’s 2u4u, features more dub-inspired fare, with head-nodding drums, and melodica and an accordion dropped into the mix. You can also find Fatty on the new Armand Hammer LP, Shrines, where he produced the song “Leopards.” Check out Fat Al’s Bandcamp page for his complete discography: https://fatalberteinstein.bandcamp.com, and for his work with Clutchy: https://clutchynfatty.bandcamp.com This interview has been lightly edited. (Photo of Fat Albert Einstein courtesy of Carmen Luceno.)
Backseat Mafia: What inspired you to create music? What inspires you every day?
Fat Albert Einstein: There’s always been an external inspiration, from our foundations in music, the mothers and fathers of this music, no genre excluded. But what sent me reeling was the feeling you get when you’re playing instruments, in the moment, when you know it’s fresh and new to your ears. That was what got me hooked and led me on the path to search for more. On the daily inspo, it goes to family, friends other artists and the environment we share… it’s crazy the well of inspiration amongst us.
BSM: Where is your favorite or usual place to work/create?
FAE: I got a small room at the crib where I can get stuff done these days. Not the ideal, but blessed to have a little battle station.
BSM: Are you a crate digger? Where is your favorite place to dig? What was your greatest find?
FAE: Yeah, records taught me most of what I know. Drums, bass, keys, guitar, I learned all from listening to records. Record Surplus in Los Angeles is my favorite spot. I used to dig here in the 90’s … started working there in 2000. That would probably be my greatest find, the family we got there. (https://www.recordsurplusla.com)
BSM: What is your preferred music production software?
FAE: [Avid Technology’s] Pro Tools is my go to for tracking all my instruments out. I keep it pretty basic.
BSM: What is your favorite piece of audio gear/instrument and why?
FAE: Tape decks and spring reverb tanks have been in my setups forever. I love the warmth, compression and dirt of tape with the wet vertigo of the springs.
BSM: What is the one-non-musical item that you must have with you when you are working?
FAE: Time. A few hours or more is always nice. As a parent, it’s hard to focus if the kids are around, rampaging. I’m usually at it after they crash these days.
BSM: What track/album work are you most proud of? Why?
FAE: Really happy with how “Rollercoaster,” with Selfsays, off of House Shoes’ record, Let It Go turned out. Shoes gave me an opportunity to cover his instrumental for this joint. It was a Gentle Giant flip, progressive polyrhythm and guitar wizardry those guys do. I wasn’t sure if I could improve on it. Somehow this one came off and felt natural. I even embellished a bit at the end, flipped the drums, not thinking Shoes would keep it. He kept it. And man, Selfsays gets the win for his role too. Thanks Shoes, thanks Charles. (Editor’s note: Gentle Giant was a British progressive rock band, active during the 1970s and 1980s. The band members were all multi-instrumentalists, and the music they made was complex, and featured intricate arrangements.)
BSM: Dream artist to work with?
FAE: I’ve thought Earl Sweatshirt or Ka could fit well with some of my songs. I’ve got some landscapes for them.
BSM: Favorite artist or artist you admire or influenced you the most?
FAE: Lee Perry, Upsetter/Black Ark era. The Meters.
BSM: Upcoming project(s)?
FAE: Next on deck, I got a song on Armand Hammer’s new record, Shrines. (Editor’s note: Shrines, the new album from billy woods and ELUCID’s Armand Hammer is out now!) I’ve also been wrapping up an EP called Cutty, that’s turning out to be pretty interesting. Me and Clutchy Hopkins got our new one in the works, and I’m excited about that. I still have a solo Lp of originals to release as well. Lots more on deck, too.
And we’re out of here…Fat Albert Einstein! Bless up!