“So I got a job as a cook at a summer camp, trying to get some money up and I came back in the fall and started doing my beats again and Chiddy’s manager approached me and said, ‘Your production was really instrumental and we’d like you to come back and have it be a duo.’ I was so torn. I was 18 years old, I’d put Drexel on pause, and I was trying to figure out what to do, and I was hungry to make music. So I went back, we put out the mixtape, and things blew up from there. Don’t get me wrong, Chiddy’s my dude, but I think the reason we’ve stayed drama-free and really smooth is because we’re here to do the best we can at this and that comes first, before personal issues.”
Indeed, there’s too much at stake to let any petty grievances get in the way. And far too much work to do.
“When you’re a kid in your dorm and you’re like, ‘Yo, I wanna do this,’ you’re just thinking, like, ‘I’m just gonna make music and put it out and then boom, that’s it,’” says Chiddy. “I mean, you don’t know that you gotta deal with label shit and do radio promo and get samples cleared and keep building it up. It’s a whole lotta stuff and it’s happening fast, but it’s what we both really want”
“I miss all my friends. I’m not in school anymore. It’s very alienating to pursue your dreams,” Beresin adds. “But as soon as we figured out where we could take this, we were like, ‘Let’s just see ...’ My ultimate goal is to get up enough money where I can buy a really huge property in Chinatown and make the greatest Philadelphia recording studio and have all kinds of artists coming through. I wanna call it ‘Boogie Down Chinatown.’ Mark my words! I’m always gonna lay my head down in Philly.” (Michael Alan Goldberg)
“I wanted to do something ridiculous and over the top, recording in the red with the gain all the way up,” says Mike Polizze, explaining the guitar mayhem that defined Purling Hiss’ self-titled debut.
A veteran of Philly’s psych boogie monolith Birds of Maya, Polizze began his solo project as a way to use up ideas that didn’t quite fit into the other band’s aesthetic. There are subtle differences between the two outfits, he says, if anything this magnificently loud and distorted can be said to be subtle.
“Purling Hiss’ dynamic is like Birds of Maya with the bass and the drums as a foundation,” he says, adding that, as a one-man outfit, he’ll often pummel through eight or nine minutes of drum tracking to start, then layer on the bass, then add guitars and vocals. It’s at this final stage that things are likely to get crazy. For the epic “Almost Washed My Hair,” he says, “I pathed one guitar track to the right and one to the left, and sometimes purposely I just sort of did two totally different things just to see how it would come together. With the volume all the way up, just really raucous.”
Purling Hiss came out in November 2009 on Chicago’s Permanent Records, too late in the year to make much critical headway, but it has since attracted some vocal fans. Doug Mosurock’s blog “Still Single” caught up with the debut a month after its release, noting “The trouble with year-end lists: records like this one, which come out quietly and without fanfare, and run the table on all of the others you’ve chosen. Had this record ... crossed my path even a few weeks earlier, it would have completely dominated. As such, this gets my highest recommendation: extremely thick, dense, wilded-out psychedelic hard rock.”
Now just past the midpoint of 2010, Polizze has two new records in the works. Former Clockcleaner drummer Richie Charles Jr. has plans to release Hissteria—a monster of an album, recorded in 2009 and made of four sprawling, noise-inflected cuts—on his own Richie Records.
Polizze’s friend Kurt Vile passed along some earlier, more song-structured Purling Hiss recordings to Jeremy Earl of super-hot Woodsist, and that label will be putting out Public Service Announcement. Timing on both these releases is still being worked out. A fall tour with Vile, and possibly a split single, are also being discussed, though nothing is set in stone.
Meanwhile, Polizze is putting together a band and reworking his loose, four-tracked soundscapes for live performances. He’s also putting a bit more structure into his new songs, though not so much as to change the sound. “It’s always going to be a little sloppy,” he says. “The chaos is part of it.” (Jennifer Kelly)
Some of the best career advice Kuf Knotz (aka Ty Green) remembers ever getting came a decade ago from the mouth of the late Philly soul giant Teddy Pendergrass, who told the budding rapper—who was just out of Harriton High—that he might want to steer clear of making music for a living.
“I grew up with his son, so I was over at their house a lot, and when Teddy found out I was rhymin’ and starting to play out, the first thing he told me was, ‘Are you sure you wanna get into it? It’s a crazy, cutthroat, ridiculous business.’”
Kuf laughs at the recollection. “I was like, ‘What?!’ But then he was like, ‘Stay focused and stay driven, and if you believe in what you’re doing, then no one can take that from you.’”
Now in his late 20s, those words have stuck with Kuf through 10 years and plenty of twists and turns on his way to becoming a local mainstay and emerging national artist. Weaned on everything from hip-hop and gospel to the Dead Milkmen and the Sex Pistols, Kuf was briefly inked to a solo deal with Gamble & Huff’s Philadelphia International Records in his late teens, though the label never released any of his recordings. After that came a stint in the hip-hop group Subtle Ground, which for a time was signed and mentored by DJ Jazzy Jeff. Then came the hip-hop/rock fusion band BurnDown All-Stars, with which Kuf recorded three albums. In recent years he’s been fronting the hip-hop/soul collective the Hustle, and now, finally, Kuf’s dropping his solo debut, BoomBox Logic, on Drexel’s MAD Dragon Records in October.
“I appreciate all the ups and downs I’ve had because it prepares you for everything,” says Kuf. “It can be very frustrating if things fall through, but it’s like, I definitely try to keep a positive outlook on everything and keep moving forward.”
PW's Music Issue 2014