Josh Dolgin, aka Socalled, always has about 7000 things on the go. The Montreal screening of the NFB movie about him is just the tip of the iceberg. However, conducting an interview with him at St-Viateur’s Club Social is not the most efficient way to get things done…
The Socalled Movie is a collection of 18 short films that illustrate the musician’s creative process. Its much-anticipated Montreal premiere is this Thursday at the Ukrainian Federation (check the link above to find out where else it’s screening in town). He’s also just produced the Abraham Inc. album that features two of his favorite collaborators: clarinetist and klezmer champion David Krakauer and trombonist and funk legend Fred Wesley. He’s also recently started making puppets, continues to teach himself new magic tricks and has a new record that he’s current looking to find a label for.
Dolgin seems to know everyone in and around Social. The guys who run it love him. He chats with Miracle Fortress about home studios, his manager swings by to talk about upcoming interviews, a woman whose children sang on one of his songs stops to chat, then a stranger introduces himself after having seen his last show. This is not counting the dozens of quick waves and hellos.
When considering how Dolgin, a skilled pianist, goes about his musical process, the vast circle of friends and acquaintances makes sense. His solo debut, The So Called Seder: A Hip Hop Haggadah, combined his love of traditional klezmer music and hip hop and flipped them up into something entirely new. But as the follow-up, Ghettoblaster, proved, “klezmer hip hop” doesn’t really begin to explain what he does. Dolgin, an avid and eclectic record collector pulls samples and inspiration from pretty much anything and anyone. As we walked down a quiet street, one that he still managed to run into 3 people on, he talks about his role as conductor of people…
Socalled: “I like people, it’s not jive. I want to talk to people. I like doing stuff and I have ideas and I work on them. You put the pieces together and get them done. I love putting things- samples or people- that shouldn’t go together, together. Like You Are Never Alone : I made the beat, found the melody, I wrote the words, but you hear Katie Moore and Doris Glaspie’s voices, you C-Rayz Waltz rap, all these other musicians. I sort of feel like Sergio Mendes. He’s an arranger, but it’s all this other stuff, these other people but it’s still called “Sergio Mendes”. His spirit pervades all of it.”
Brendan Murphy: Since we’ve somehow already run out of time, I’ll just skip ahead: what are some Mile End spots that people should know about?
Socalled: “Maybe if I mention it’ll turn into some cool hangout, but I don’t care: Royal Submarine on Bernard . Get The Royal Submarine Super Special. It’s 14 inches and it’s good for about 3 meals. And Regent Photo on Parc . It’s been there forever and the guy who runs it is amazing- he’s in the my movie. I’ve been trying to figure out what his story is for a while now.”