We’ve covered N.A.S.A. (North America South America) here many times in the past, partly because they’ve managed to corral an almost unholy stable of collaborators to work with (“People Tree” featuring David Byrne, Chali 2Na, Z-Trip and Gift of Gab, “Whachadoin?” with M.I.A., Santogold and Spank Rock, “Spacious Thoughts” with Tom Waits and Kool Keith, “Strange Enough,” with Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Karen O and Fatlip, et al). But not only that, their musical delivery and aesthetic/visual identity is spotless, working with top of the line directors and visual specialists on their animated videos that truly maximize the often cliched format (Syd Garon, Stephan Doitschinoff, Don Letts, etc). Then this summer N.A.S.A. released The Big Bang, an album of dancefloor interpretations of songs from last year’s debut The Spirit of Apollo, plus two new tracks. We dug them so much we decided to hunt down Sam Spiegel, aka Squeek E. Clean — who makes up the N.A. of the N.A.S.A. duo (the other half, Brazil’s DJ Zegon, reps South America) — to discuss how the hell they’ve managed so much quality in so little time (hint: it has to do with the Knights of Templar). Read our Q&A with Squeek E. Clean, and check out the new video for their cover of Max Romeo and The Upsetters’ classic reggae anthem “I Chase the Devil” for Doc Marten’s 50th Anniversary below…
Your project’s very name denotes that you guys represent both hemispheres, in other words are a fusion or blend of global sonic influences. At the same time, because you are North America, and Zegon is South America, that also implies that where you guys are from specifically is also very important and influential to your sound. Is this true? And if so, how has Los Angeles specifically influenced your sound?
Yes… our locations have definitely played a part in our artistic formation, but something NASA is about is exploring art and music and culture from different places. To search it out. So while we’re influenced by where we’re from we have also have a huge outside influence from other places and cultures
We’ve joked around on the site that you have naked photos of someone very powerful (Steve Aoki jello wrestling that gay senator, for instance), which is the only way to explain how you’ve gotten the serious heavyweight collaborators you’ve gotten.
We have some strong illuminati connections and government associations. Can’t go into it too deep…but the Masons and the Knights of Templar have helped.
Hit the Jump to continue reading our interview with N.A.S.A.’s Squeek E. Clean, plus download a free MP3 of their new track “I Wanna Be Your Lover” feat. Max Hedrum and Barbie Hatch below…
When you collaborate with an artist, do you just send them an instrumental track and they record over it? Or are you in the same studio together, with a lot of cross-pollination?
I try and always be in the room with an artist I’m working with. If it’s a NASA project… it should fit with the concept. It should be cohesive. So for example The Spirit of Apollo had a strong concept and there is something to be said for sitting in a room with someone and bouncing ideas. I think that’s lost a little bit in today’s internet world.
What has been your proudest professional achievement thus far?
It’s hard to pick one moment. But making The Spirit of Apollo was special. It meant a lot to work with all my heroes.
What was the first movie you saw that you think really influenced your art?
The film that influenced me more than anything was 2001. It’s so beautiful. The composition is so perfect. It’s well thought out. It was so ahead of its time… it still holds up with any sci fi film today. It’s so original and abstract… but at the same time it’s really identifiable. Everyone can connect with it in someway or another.
Who would you like to work with that you haven’t yet?
Bjork, Damon Albarn, Andre 3000
What’s the most interesting example of design or art work you’ve seen over the last year?
This crazy project at the Standard in New York I’m working on… taking over the entire southside of Standard Hotel in New York. Lighting every room and putting in dancers to be choreographed to my music. I’ve been spending quite a bit of time setting it up and that building is impeccable. All the design elements. The architecture, the paint the wall paper, the chairs…. It?s an amazing building
Lastly, if you were lost in a supermarket, in what aisle would we find you in?
Ice Cream Aisle
Buy “The Big Bang” here, the album cover below…