Ming and FS, turntablist duo from one of the hip-hop capitals of the world, have developed what they claim is a new style all their own. They like to call it “junkyard.”
“This is not knucklehead music,” Ming says. “This is progressive hip-hop, blended with danceable grooves, drum ’n’ bass and live instrumentation.” The pair construct every element of their sound, using combinations of live keyboards, acoustic drums and electric guitars. Ming says the sound is “every style of music coming from a hip-hop perspective,” which is where the term “junkyard” comes in.
Before they met in New York City, Ming was completing a degree in electrical engineering and audio production at the University of Miami. It was then he discovered a love for jazz and break beats. After his friend from the UK, DJ Freestyle, introduced him to drum ’n’ bass in 1993, he moved to New York City where the drum ’n’ bass sound was starting to get popular, so he could take his interest a little further.
FS (Fred Sargolini) was scratching records for break dancers by the age of 10. He eventually ended up at the Brooklyn Conservatory of music, where he graduated in jazz piano. FS became quite a popular producer, doing the controls for the likes of Coolio, Brandy and members of the KRS-One posse.
One night while club-hopping, FS encountered Ming spinning trip-hop. “What the hell is this shit?” FS wanted to know. A few months later, they were working together on break beats. The label Sugar Spliff noticed, and signed them to a deal under the moniker Lead Foot. They were offered a spot on the Om Records Deep Concentration compilations, and Om later signed them to a three-record deal. In 1997, they formed their own Madhattan Studios. Since then, they have worked as producers for Spooky and done some drum ’n’ bass mixes for Biggie Smalls and Li’l Kim.
On Hell’s Kitchen, their full-length debut for Om, they take you through a wild and funky journey. The title track hits you with its guitar intro and heavy bass. The track “King’s County” features some MC-ing by M’stro Manny and has a Brooklyn B-boy vibe. “Rock Higher” is definitely a track for the dance floor with its heavy drum ’n’ bass groove. “Hijack the Disco” is another one for the floor, and features MC TC Izlam.
While they continue to ready their next full-length on Om (The Human Condition, slated for release sometime in late spring), they’ve already put a five-song EP on Sound Gizmo Audio called Applied Pressure. When asked what the Ming-and-FS sound is, Ming says, “It’s a little crazy, all over the map.” You can hear at least four genres of music in all of their tracks, and the duo refers to it as “layering, scratching and nonsense.” They like to think of it as “DJ Shadow on speed,” or a more tripped-out Roni Size if he were based in New York and not the UK. Incidentally, FS thinks the UK artists are doing some great work, giving the American hip-hop artists a run for their money, though he maintains that the Ming-and-FS sound is a very danceable alternative to most American hip-hop.
Ming also likes a lot of the UK stuff, but thinks New York City hip-hop is the real deal. “It’s very engraved in our culture now,” he says. “The vocabulary and culture of New York is so much different than the rest of the world. This is an urban experience with subways, buildings and city surrounding you.” Ming is into a wide variety of hip-hop, mostly New York-style. J Boogie, Z Trip, Detachi and Kit Clayton are the names he drops. As for the mainstream, he says the new Sade is “real chill,” and he also likes Outkast, De La Soul and the last Fiona Apple album.
Over the course of the last year, the sudden yet well-deserved popularity of Ming and FS has sent them all over the world, headlining raves and dance parties in Detroit, New Orleans, Dallas, Atlanta and even Colorado Springs and Japan. In August of last year, they co-headlined the Yes Festival at Indiana’s Paoli Peaks Resort with Bad Boy Bill and Richard “Humpty” Vission. Shortly after that, FS hosted the release party for the Applied Pressure EP in Denver.
October saw them at the “Halloween Monster Massive” in Los Angeles’ Sports Arena with Carl Cox, AK1200 and LTJ Bukem. They returned to L.A. New Year’s Eve for a gigantic rave that had them spinning alongside Armand Van Helden, DJ Dan, Diesel Boy and Omar Santana.
They’ve just embarked on a small tour that will send them to San Francisco and Seattle before they end up in Utah for the Sundance Film Festival. They plan to catch some of the films as well, and, naturally, to hit the slopes for some snowboarding.
Ming and FS will spin at Club Creation, 268 Main, Park City, on Monday, Jan. 22, and at Bricks, 579 W. 200 South, Wednesday, Jan. 24. Sample some junkyard beats at www.MadhattanStudios.com and www.Om-Records.com.