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Experimental hip-hop troupe clipping. braves the final frontier

Monday 13th, February 2017 / 17:15
By Vanessa Tam

experimental hip hop group clipping. brave the final frontier with their latest album Splendor & Misery.
Photo: Brian Tamborello

VANCOUVER — An experimental hip hop project that regularly challenges its listeners, clipping. is the collective mindset of producers William Hutson, Jonathan Snipes. and MC Daveed Diggs. Starting out as a casual remix project between friends, the band self-released their first album Midcity in 2013 and has since released two more studio albums on Sub Pop.

“clipping. is the sum of all our training—our roles in the band reflect our outside work. Jonathan is a composer, William is a scholar, and Daveed is a storyteller,” Huston shares. “When we’re working, those roles all blur into each other quite a bit, but those are the three aspects of any track that make it a clipping. track.”

Known to meticulously build each of their tracks from the ground up, their latest album Splendor & Misery follows a person into outer space and employs countless original samples and simulated recording techniques to create the album’s futuristic backdrop. “Our sounds are either recordings we made of physical objects (field recordings, etc.) or synthesizer patches we made ourselves—no presets,” Huston explains. “We use samples when we want to make a specific reference and we expect our listeners to recognize the source. We’d never sample a drum hit or a melodic line because we couldn’t come up with a good enough one on our own. That isn’t that we’re against sampling—many of our biggest influences are producers who use samples, but we are trained in sound design and think that it’s something unique that we can contribute to the genre.”

Another way the band pushes their genre is by eliminating the use of pronouns in their work. “I think that any art whose form challenges what is presumed to be ‘natural’ is an attempt to call into question all social constructs that are taken for granted,” says Huston. “The development of western music is so tied to systems of patriarchy and colonialism that to resist one can be a simultaneous attempt to resist the others. I don’t mean for that to sound preachy, or self-important, but we originally thought that we could operate with that level of subtlety and that people would clearly understand our politics. Turns out, that wasn’t true. We needed to start to be more overt in our messages and practices.”

clipping. performs at the Biltmore Cabaret February 22nd.

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