Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Music Collection – Peanut Butter Wolf

The Stones Throw boss on what he’s learned from Schoolly D, Judy Garland, Free Design, Afrika Bambaataa and more

Peanut Butter Wolf at work. Photo: Stacy Lucier

Thu, Aug 20, 2015, 12:07


Peanut Butter Wolf is coming to town. The DJ, producer and Stones Throw label founder plays Cork Cyprus Avenue on August 21 and Dublin’s Sugar Club on August 29. Here’s his list of tracks and albums which have influenced his music and outlook on music over the years.

(1) Paul McCartney “Secret Friend”

I just discovered this song about four months ago, but it is really the most refreshing thing I’ve heard in years. Basically, it’s the missing link between Stones Throw and Circle Star, the new label I started around four months ago as well. It’s from 1979, which was the year I really got into music and has tinges of Afrobeat, electronic, rock, soul, funk, and everything else you can imagine. It’s not hype or exciting, but it feels spiritual and puts you in a trance. And I don’t mean trance as in house music trance. No way! I can’t believe I didn’t know about it til now nor can I believe that nobody champions it the way they should. The music is really beautiful and the message is fucked up and confusing and reminds me that heaven and hell is on earth. My goal in life is to play all 10 minutes and thirty one seconds in a DJ set.

(2) Great Pride “She’s A Lady”

Starts off with one of the craziest drum breaks ever. The sound of the drums is exactly the sound I always looked to sample and make a hip-hop track out of when I was making beats in the 1990s and the timing of the drummer sounds like a damned drum machine it’s so perfect. Usually when a song starts with drums like this, the music that comes in ruins it, but not with this one. Every four or eight bars, when you think it can’t get any better, it builds and does. I’m too paranoid to do any drugs other than booze, caffeine, sugar, salt, and beef, but this one makes me wanna try some shit.

(3) Schoolly D “PSK/Gucci Time”

These two songs came out on a 12” and honestly, I can’t choose one. Both defined my teenage years. Actually Schoolly D, Just Ice, and Blastmaster KRS One were all something new and exciting from me and I learned more from those three rappers than my high school teachers. But with this double sided single in particular, I loved the recording technique. As a teen, it just sounded fucked up and wrong in the right way. When I got older, I learned that it was recorded in a high-end classical studio, but Schoolly D just turned the plate reverb up all the way. The “refined engineer” advised him against it, but he just did what felt good to him. These are the kind of happy accidents I did with my label through the years, not paying attention to rules and just going more off of feeling. That’s how Madlib always does it and why I gravitate towards his music as well.

(4) Afrika Bambaataa/Soul Sonic Force “Planet Rock”

This was a monster when it came out. Now of course, I didn’t know “Trans Europe Express” at the time, so no telling how it would’ve affected me had I known that first. But hearing this in 1982, when up to that point, all I really was following was soul, funk, and disco, I was blown away. I’d do pause mixes with my tape deck before I had two turntables, but this song is probably what inspired me to get two turntables. My friend Steve and I loved the instrumental version more than the vocal version. Sci-fi was king at the time.

(5) Free Design “My Brother Woody”

This group is one of my go-tos. Such a full sound sonically. Lyrics are silly, melodies are silly. Puts you in a good mood if you let your guard down and accept it. I also love how there’s so many instruments and they’re all panned. I discovered this group in the early 1990s when I made my music with Charizma and following their lead, did a lot of panning in our music. I think “T.R.O.Y.” by Pete Rock/CL kinda opened me up to look for “hippy music” like this to start with and I found this at a thrift store in San Jose for about a dollar or two. The whole album is fire though. They understand the importance of arrangements and not just verse/chorus/verse sounding the same every time. Doing a remix for them years later was a career highlight for me.

(6) Candido “Thousand Finger Man”

Disco track that pretty much was the basis for a LOT of house music a generation later which is now the basis for a lot of music a generation after that.

(7) Judy Garland “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” or Aly-Us “Follow Me”

The former is my sister’s favorite song and the latter is my mom’s favorite and family is important to me so I want to give them a voice too.

Previously in the Music Collection series: Young Wonder, Cloud Castle Lake, The Go! Team, O Emperor and Dave Clarke