Producer Ryland “Beaker” Sabien and drummer/producer Phil “Foxy Dope” Ade describe their sound as old-school hip-hop blended with modern sound design. Their beats contain elements of glitch-hop, bass and chill funk. Determinedly, Sabien and Ade chase those cosmic, fiery moments of psychedelia.
The duo’s long-awaited second album, Chill Funk Files Vol. 2, is an eight-track combination of samples and all-original music. The record is set to drop on September 10, just after a September 9 album-release party at Cervantes Masterpiece Ballroom, along with sets from Kill Paris and Russ Liquid. The album contains heavy bass and vinyl samples with smooth jazz.
“The first time I ever came out to Denver, I drove my ’91 Honda Accord,” says Sabien. “I pretty much knew I was going to move here, but I wanted to check Denver out and make sure it was the [right] move. Basically, I wanted to smoke as much weed as humanly possible in those three days.”
As he pulled into Denver, his car broke down; he had it towed to a nearby mechanic. The car wouldn’t be ready in time for the drive back to Infrasound in Minnesota, where Beak Nasty was slated to play.
“This was on a Monday, and Phil was back in Minneapolis,” Sabien explains. "We were the first act of Infrasound that Thursday. I was like, ‘Oh, boy, plane tickets are hella expensive,’ and I didn't have a fucking dollar to my name.”
He scoured the Infrasound event family page and found someone who knew someone attending the event: “This dude hit me up and said, ‘Hey, my homie’s actually planning on sneaking into Infrasound, and he's gonna leave tonight.’ I was like, ‘Okay, well, I’ll get this man an actual ticket.’”
Sabien hit the road and headed to Black River Falls, Wisconsin, with a stranger who planned to sneak into the festival. He was unsure if he was even going to make it in time for the set.
“We cut it less than ten minutes to our fucking set time,” explains Ade. “I'm on stage, and I set my drums up, but [the music] goes through Ryland’s software; he's playing the fucking music. If he didn't make it to this set, I would have been playing drums with no music behind it.”
The sound guys were ready for sound check at the main stage. However, Sabien was still nowhere to be found.
“There's a gate right behind the main stage,” Ade continues. “That's where artists check in. So I'm walking off the stage, and I look at this door. It was almost ten minutes before we played. Ryland kicks open the fucking door with a bunch of equipment in his hand and says, ‘Let's go, bitch,’ and he throws my fucking drum seat at me, which I had forgotten back home.”
The two musicians had cut it right in the nick of time. The set they were scheduled to play happened to be the very first of the weekend. As they performed, artists like Mala, Jason Hann, Ganja White Night, The Widdler and a number of other headliners stared at them in disbelief from the crowd.
Not long after they almost missed the set at Infrasound, they almost missed another gig at a warehouse show In Chicago.
“It was a crazy fucking random lineup,” Sabien recalls. “It was us and Esseks headlining. Boogie T was opening for us, and at the time, people were like, ‘Bro, how the fuck did you get above Boogie T [on the lineup]?’"
The day of the show, the two were supposed to catch a flight to Chicago, where there happened to be a blizzard, causing flight cancellations. Once again, they were worried that they might not make their set. The boys had to purchase tickets to fly into Cincinnati, where they were lucky enough to find a ride from Cincinnati to Chicago in a whiteout blizzard.
As it turned out, though, there was a mixup in the luggage and the equipment situation, and the two were stuck without equipment. Luckily, one of the promoters for the show had access to the same drum kit that Ade needed to perform his set, but other pieces of equipment were still needed. They quickly called up Guitar Center and begged the store to stay open so they could get the necessary gear for their gig.
Thirteen hours later, Beak Nasty was set up and ready to play, only to realize that Sabien had forgotten his turntable needles, a crucial element in their music.
“I walked up to a person in the crowd — literally the first person in the crowd," Sabien says. "I can't make this shit up. This shouldn't have worked. I asked him, ‘Do you happen to know anyone with turntable needles?’ He's like, ‘Oh, yeah, dude, my fucking roommate spins. He's got needles back at the crib.’” After searching for the last piece of the puzzle, the turntable needles were located.
Sound-ordinance citations are not something that Beak Nasty is unfamiliar with. The duo had been booked to play a show at an abandoned tire warehouse in Detroit. The week prior, a massive party had been thrown in the same venue.
“We were like, ‘This is about to be sick,’” says Ade. “You have this island bar that's dimly lit. You look to your left, and there's a massive stage with a ton of huge speakers. It was one of the sickest venues we've ever seen.”
The bandmates started the first half of their set. Sabien shredded the DJ decks and Ade found rhythm on drums. The sound came together immaculately, with the crowd loving every second, they recall.
All of a sudden, Sabien felt someone abruptly grab his shoulder and spin him around. It was a police officer. “I looked up, and I was like, ‘Oh, hello. Didn’t see you there.’ He's like, ‘Turn that fucking music off right fucking now.’ I'm like, ‘Okay, yeah, yeah.’ We've had a million shows get busted by the cops, so it's not anything new.”
The cops continued to harass Sabien and Ade, taking the drumsticks out of Ade’s hands and claiming that all of the equipment on the stage that belonged to Sabien and Ade was now property of the Detroit Police Department.
“The cops kept saying, ‘This is now the property of Michigan,’” Ade said. “We both looked at each other and were like, ‘Absolutely fucking not. You're not taking my laptop. You’re not taking the drum kit. These aren't my turntables,’” Sabien says.
Ade started to pack up his gear, and an officer turned to him: “You can keep doing that. You’re just making less work for us, because all this equipment is now ours.”
The police department ended up writing Sabien and Ade a ticket that read “blind pig” and released them with the equipment. The citation was for ‘operating a noise making amplified-device in a public space.’" They used the citation name for the first song on their new album. To this day, Sabien and Ade are unsure why the ticket was titled “blind pig,” but the new track is fiery, to say the least.
They had to return to Detroit for a court hearing. “The cops were giving us this lecture,” Sabien explains. “They’re like, ‘Detroit's a dangerous city, boys. We hope you’ll think twice before coming back here.' Basically, we got kicked out of the city. We still love Detroit and would love to go back some day. Had the back door been locked, the cops would not have been able to shut the show down. It was one stupid detail that ruined everything.”
Unfortunately, the guys did not receive payment for the gig, and the venue shut down permanently after the incident, but they can now look back and laugh at the situation they caused.
Beak Nasty always stays as safe as possible when they are out of state, especially in states where marijuana might not be legal. They do an excellent job of hiding whatever they take along on tour for personal consumption.
“We only bring like apple bowls, Clif Bars, bananas, carrots — really, anything you can smoke out of and also eat,” Sabien details. “We make sure it's all hidden away in smell-proof containers, so if we get pulled over, we can just eat our paraphernalia and all our weed.”
The boys were returning from a gig in Minneapolis, humming down the road somewhere in Nebraska. Close to the Colorado state line, a state trooper pulled out behind them and turned on his lights. Luckily, they had only an eighth of weed and one apple bowl, which Ade was quick to scarf down in what he claims was under ten seconds.
“It was crazy. We were freaking out,” Sabien explains. “All of a sudden, the cop just zooms right past us and doesn't even pull us over. To any readers out there, the strategy is eat the weed first to wash it down with the apple. We’ve never been less stoked to not get pulled over.”
Through all the adversity that Beak Nasty has had to face throughout its musical career, the duo has been shaped and inspired to continue to do what it does best: crush tunes. The act makes a promise to all fans that it will do anything in its power to make it to each set, even if it means being there at the very last second.
With the upcoming album release, as well as the release party, Sabien and Ade will showcase music they've been working on for the past decade. To all fans new and old, Beak Nasty delivers the tastiest of beats and has earned its reputation as one of Denver’s best live acts.
“I want to say one last little thing,” adds Ade. “You know, through the struggles that we’ve had on our journey, it's really the people who spend money and take the time to come to our shows that keep us alive. It makes us able to afford what we do and create. People that want to see us play live, we're gonna do everything we possibly can to play that music in front of them.”
Beak Nasty plays at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 9, at Cervantes' Masterpiece Ballroom, 2635 Welton Street. For tickets and more information, go to the Cervantes' website. Chill Funk Files Vol. 2 will be available to stream online September 10.