By Emma Silvers
By Gary Moskowitz
By Alee Karim
By Ian S. Port
By Ian S. Port
By Derek Opperman
By Emma Silvers
By Alee Karim
New Itch Local DJ crew the Invisibl Skratch Piklz have gone international. The Piklz recently expanded their selective (and strictly local) roster to include Canadian DJ A-Trak, winner of this year's Disco Mixing Club (DMC) world championship. Although the Piklz, consisting of DJs Yoga Frog, Q-Bert, MixMaster Mike, Shortkut, and D-Styles, were not looking to expand, A-Trak's skills quickly changed their minds. Q-Bert and Yoga Frog first saw the 15-year-old DJ cutting up the turntable in Hang the DJ, a 1996 documentary. Extremely impressed, the two DJs traveled to the Canadian DMC Championship to meet with A-Trak and discuss his becoming a Pikl. According to Yoga Frog, in A-Trak they saw not only a very talented young scratch DJ, but the future as well. "With that much talent at his age, A-Trak's definitely a future leader of turntablists," says Yoga Frog. (R.A.)
It's Time to Play: Hoax, or Hubris? Riff Raff loves a good hoax, whether perpetrated against the general public, some hapless dupe in the readership, or us. Even when it makes us sweaty and paranoid, we think of the whole hoax process as a game. But sometimes it becomes difficult to distinguish a good hoax from absurd reality -- especially in the current climate of popular culture. And discovering a good hoax becomes a true challenge when none of the principals want to return phone calls. Below is a letter, sent in by a reader. The correspondent -- let's call him Maurice Chucklebaum -- claims that he received it from Wal-Mart, regarding his small record label (which we'll dub Dour Indie Records) and one of his bands (here christened Lukewarm Porridge). "I think they're jumping the gun a bit," writes Chucklebaum, "since I've never sent Wal-Mart anything. Plus, I've only sold about 500 Lukewarm Porridge records." The letter seems to be printed on genuine Wal-Mart letterhead, but something's fishy. It lacks a signature, for starters. And Chucklebaum includes no return address. The phone number he provides works, but only reaches an answering machine -- one with an outgoing message consisting of nothing more than a nasty laugh. Furthermore, Chucklebaum doesn't return calls. When we repeatedly dialed up Wal-Mart PR, we only received some cursory advice that they couldn't locate the "West Coast Record Buyer" named below. Wal-Mart PR didn't care to call back after we faxed them a copy of the letter, seeking confirmation as to the document's inauthenticity. Well, while we haven't seen any muted posthorns yet, we do sense that some tyro culture-jammer is trying to get his wolf badge. At the same time, there is more than a whiff of sulfur around Wal-Mart. Regardless, we think the letter is funny. We reprint it, with wonky grammar and punctuation intact, solely for your amusement. (M.B.)
Thank you for participating in Wal-Mart Stores' aggressive market leveraging program in the entertainment industry. As you are aware, Wal-Mart Stores is interested in capturing a greater market share of the exciting and volatile alternative music industry. The participation of small independent companies like yours in our search for likely exclusive distribution contracts is absolutely necessary for us to be able to service the needs of the american people. In fact, it is the very same entrepreneurial spirit that small record companies like yours possess that has driven Wal-Mart Stores to its level of market success in the alternative music industry.
We have reviewed your catalog, and are concerned about some titles. Wal-Mart Stores is interested in being a community-oriented business. As such, we have to be cognizant of the sensitivities of those in our Wal-Mart communities. It is our policy not to accept any more "gangsta-rap" units for distribution unless their sales top 250,000 units. Your sales figures for the last quarter show that you are under that goal for your released artists in that genre.
The other concern voiced by our pre-screening department in Yuba City (your local distribution center) was that it was not clear if your "naturist" artists were promoting natural awareness of the beauty inherent in this great nation of America. There was some suggestion that certain lyrics could be interpreted to be a promotion of nudism or outdoor activities that are done without clothing. Perhaps you could have a representative give our community interests representative a call about this matter.
We, and I personally, are very excited about your new artist "Lukewarm Porridge." Assuming we can clear up the regrettable confusion about your stable of artists, we would like to begin negotiations to purchase units for the west coast. The sales figure you have provided of 400 units of 1000 is very promising. I hope that we can speak regarding the prospect of Dour Indie Records joining the family of alternative music producers that have benefited from Wal-Mart Stores' support.
Randy Johnson, West Coast Record Buyer
Riff Raff riffraff: Robert Arriaga (R.A.), Michael Batty (M.B.), Johnny DiPaola (J.D.P.), Karl D. Esturbense (K.D.E.), Jeff Stark (J.S.), Silke Tudor (S.T.), and Bill Wyman (B.W.). Send Bay Area music news, band stories, or petty gripes to email@example.com, or mail it to Riff Raff, c/o SF Weekly. No flack, please.