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Moving With The Time: 5 Steps With No Regular Play

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Greg Paulus and Nick DeBruyn better known to me and you by their joint moniker of No Regular Play met as 8 year olds growing up in St. Paul, Minnesota. Picking up inspiration from hip-hop and jazz legends such as A Tribe Called Quest, J Dilla, Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock, Greg performed trumpet at local jazz clubs in his teenage years and together they traveled to Cuba’s Havana to study Afro-Cuban rhythm, music and culture. Greg went on to study jazz/classical at the Manhattan School of Music and worked with James Brown’s drummer and Lauryn Hill before touring with critically acclaimed indie band Beirut. In 2006 Nick joined Greg in Brooklyn to begin experimenting with electronic music after they attended a Wolf + Lamb party that blew their minds and the rest is history. With the release of two remix EPs of their excellent Endangered Species album out now, we invited the Wolf + Lamb duo to revisit 5 pivotal moments in their fledgling career.

Growing Up

Greg and I met each other on the playground in elementary school when we were 8 years old. You may think that after 20+ years we’d be sick of each other (sometimes the case), but one advantage to our working relationship is that we formed a very similar taste in music growing up. We both got into hip hop (Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, J Dilla) at the same time through the skating scene in middle school, and both developed a love for jazz while Greg studied and played trumpet all through high school. We spent countless hours driving around the Twin Cities listening to whatever records we were really into at the time. I think without sharing and experiencing so much music together during our childhood we’d have very divergent views on our musical direction. 

Moving to Brooklyn

We both moved into an apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn in 2006 after college. We had just gotten our first taste of electronic music at the Decibel Festival in Seattle the month before, and we knew we needed to find out where we could hear more of it. Greg had just been to a party (we’d later find out it was a Wolf + Lamb event with Matthew Dear) at a place called 3rd Ward which was hosting a lot of underground parties at the time. He had such a blast he thought we needed to live as close to the building as possible. Those years might have been a bit of a dry spell for the NYC house/techno scene in general but, just getting into it, we thought it was amazing. We went to the Bunker parties every Friday night, and searched out underground events like Wolf + Lamb, Blackmarket and Resolute. This really got us inspired to work on music. We bought Logic and Ableton, and spent every hour we could between jobs working on music, making tracks at night to listen to on the subway to and from work the next day.

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Meeting Wolf + Lamb

We had run into Zev and Gadi a couple times at their parties and started to send them some of our music. It was a little amateur in technique at first, but Zev was polite and told us to keep sending stuff and that if it was right we’d eventually “fall into orbit”. A few months went by and we sent them something completely different than before, much less techno and more jazz/hip hop influenced, more house. Not too long after Greg got an email back saying they wanted to Skype. Took us awhile to figure out what Skype was but we downloaded it and got on the line with them immediately. They really loved what they heard and wanted us to come over to play more. As soon as we started hanging with them everything just clicked. We loved their vibe and formed a great relationship with them. We moved into their building not long after, occupying the 3rd floor of the Marcy Hotel. Living there was a great way to get to know so many people in the scene and really get inspired to make music full time. After our first couple EP’s out on Wolf + Lamb we were finally able to quit our jobs at a vinyl pressing plant and commit ourselves fully to NRP.  

Release of Our First Album

Working on our first album, Endangered Species, was one of the most rewarding experiences we’ve had. We pretty much locked ourselves in the studio for a month, sometimes working in shifts so one of us could get some sleep to wake up and work on it later. Our goal was to challenge ourselves to make a coherent album that wasn’t all dance tracks, but didn’t shy away from it either. We really wanted it to reflect a lot of our influences and make it listenable from start to finish. Doing as much as we could in a short amount of time made this possible, or at least we’d like to think! We were able to work with another childhood friend, Alex Scherber (AKA John Camp), and The Real Live Show, an MC duo that Greg had played trumpet with and who were a big inspiration. We were extremely lucky to have the support of Wolf + Lamb to let us do whatever we wanted to make it happen. 

TimePiece with the Minnesota Orchestra 

The writing and performance of TimePiece was a major moment in our evolution. I (Greg) and my father Stephen Paulus, came up with the idea to write a piece for the Minnesota Orchestra combining elements of jazz and classical music, our respective specialties, and integrate the two in a seamless way (something extremely difficult to achieve). In the beginning it was mostly a pipe dream, but  in 2007 my dad mentioned it to former Minnesota Orchestra maestro Osmo Vanska and he loved the idea and immediately commissioned it for 2012. In 2007, I (Greg) was primarily a jazz musician, but as the years went on became almost completely immersed in electronic music and production. So, when my dad and I actually sat down to write the piece, we ended up using many of the ideas that Nick and I had been working on for NRP, including ideas with delay, sampling and arpeggiation. We actually based the entire first movement of TimePiece off of the NRP track, “Rain (All Day)” that came out on Cut Mistake Music. The instrumentation was full orchestra with a jazz quintet in the middle surrounding the conductor and a set up of laptop, controllers and delay pedals that I had at the front. In total, around 100 musicians on stage. What ended up happening was a whirlwind piece that seamlessly mixed everything we love about modern classical, romantic music, lush jazz harmonies with free improvisation and the otherworldly evolutions of modern electronic music. To say this was the highlight of my life is an understatement.

No Regular Play Endangered Species Remixes Vol I. is out now via Wolf + Lamb. Check it out below:

 

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