Saturday, November 24, 2012

Winslow Radio - Now Playing: Fresh Hats Tight Beats

Today, we are celebrating an anniversary of sorts on Winslow Radio. Five years ago, the first incarnation of what is now Fresh Hats Tight Beats began in Zach Matthews' bedroom in Memphis, TN. After all these years, this project has grown from a singular song into the largest collection of tunes from any of our Winslow projects. To celebrate, we will be playing all Fresh Hats Tight Beats tracks, all day.

The first time any music was tagged "Fresh Hats Tight Beats," it was simply the name of a song Zach and I created together. Obviously, we were on a mission for tight beats, but additionally, Zach was/is an avid collector of fresh hats. Once the song was complete, there was simply no other option than to name this song "Fresh Hats Tight Beats." That song made its rounds online and in various CD players, but it was never officially released because we really had no formal outlet for the beats we made together. Until much later.

Two years down the line, Zach and I had become roommates along with Jacob Greer and Leigh Buck in Nashville, TN. The catalyst for the first Fresh Hats Tight Beats album, "Summer Sessions," was the imminent relocation of Tim Santos and Natalie Hogan to Denver, CO. They had already packed up and moved out of their apartment in Murfreesboro, TN and Tim was crashing with us in Nashville off and on for a few days. When he came through to stay, we would stay in the beat lab making tracks, simply because we knew that our time to collaborate with Tim was limited. We were in quite a creative tizzy as new tracks just kept popping out and each of us would trade out taking the helm for the beat making sessions. It was also a great boon to us that we had many of our Winslow family musicians around all the time.

While we were creating the foundation for tracks, we were able to add collaborators like Jacob Greer on guitar for the tracks, "No Place Like Home," "Our Universal Dialect (O.U.D.)," and "Just a Beat." We also got contributions from Juan De Winslow on rhodes for the tracks "Smooth Fool" and "Flat 5ive Remix." My favorite collaboration for this album came on "The BAT" where we had a small wind ensemble with Rick Laverty on tenor sax, Juan de on alto sax, and Jeremy "Tuerto Willie" Fleming on flute.

The first official Fresh Hats Tight Beats album, Summer Sessions, dropped on July 17th, 2009. It was such a low-key project for us at the time that to release it, we simply uploaded a zip file to and left it at that. Even the title of the album was a bit convoluted as we had little idea of what this project really was or what it would become. The first official title was the Winslow Family Band presents "Fresh Hats Tight Beats" - Summer Sessions. To us, this was simply a mix-tape or something like it. To our surprise, the release picked up a lot more attention than we ever really imagined it would. Eventually we were asked to play some shows in Memphis as Fresh Hats Tight Beats. By the time we were working toward doing live shows as this outfit, one of the major contributors to the initial release, Tim Santos, had already moved out West. This was always his plan, and we never really thought any farther than trying to make a few tunes before he moved away. Without Tim, we had a pretty tough conundrum about whether or not we should even do shows and furthermore, how to actually execute playing live.

This is where we started messing with Ableton Live for the first time, and somehow we actually created our first live electronic project from the Winslow Family collective. I spent a great deal of time breaking down and layering out all the different pieces of the original Summer Sessions compositions into their own Ableton Live sessions. Then Zach and I would set up our desktop computers on stage each trading off mixing through different sessions on Live. It was a bit amateur, especially considering we were opening for acts like Two Fresh who had been doing this kind of performing for much longer than us and really had the whole rig super dialed in. Nonetheless, this live performing set us on a trajectory to do many more albums as Fresh Hats Tight Beats. Here is a video from our first live performance where we had the support of fellow Memphians, Juan de Winslow on the sax, and Nadia Sophia doing fire dancing as well as Leigh Buck working the visuals in the back:

Our run as a live outfit was short-lived as Leigh and I eventually moved out west, leaving the Fresh Hats Tight Beats project in limbo. Tim and I reunited in Denver and began to experiment with the second electronic band from the Winslow collective, The Biz. It seems that the Fresh Hats Tight Beats experiment spawned a whole new era for the Winslow Family and beat-making became the main focus of many of musicians in the collective.

For a while, FHTB looked to be a one time thing. But Zach came to visit in Denver and a beat binge was imminent. Over the New Year's holiday from 2009 into 2010, we all celebrated together and used every spare minute to make a new collection of songs that became The ReIntroduction EP. This was our "reintroduction" because it was the first time we were making a set of tracks that we knew would be released under the Fresh Hats Tight Beats name as a group. That definition might seem confusing, but remember, before this album, we had never planned to play live, and we had never intended for our previous release to become anything more than a mix-tape. So this was our attempt to take the FHTB name and say, "Hey, here we are! This is it." The same team of Zach, Tim and myself were the chief composers of all the tracks on The ReIntroduction EP, but once again we still had the great opportunity to add the contributions of our Winslow Family. You'll hear samples of our friend Taktix aka Grisly Atoms rapping on "Winslow Alley." Also, our trumpeter friend, Dave Benedict can be heard improvising over a live beat mixing session on "Fresh Start."

With the major contributors of the group split across the nation, live shows were not an option. Plus, Tim and I continued to focus on developing The Biz. We released our first album as The Biz only three months after The ReIntroduction EP came out. The identities of FHTB and The Biz became very hard to distinguish from each other with overlapping members and the attachment of live visuals to both of the bands. Luckily, in 2010, Matt Nigro stepped up and joined with Zach to continue the live performance aspect of FHTB. This helped to create some definition between our two overlapping bands, and it breathed new life into FHTB as a live act. Here is a video of Zach and Matt performing as FHTB:

We had created a new definition for FHTB as a live act, but the production element of the project remained within the hands of the same contributors as the first two releases. Once again, over the New Years holiday from 2010 into 2011, Zach came to visit us in Denver and we focused on putting together another FHTB album. Matt had wanted to be involved, but he couldn't make it out to Denver for New Years, and the three of us pretty much insisted on the same binge-like production methods as the previous albums. And so, on January 11th, 2011, we released our third album, Treks.

Treks was the longest album to date from FHTB with eleven songs and the first album that we released on Before this, the releases were only available for download as a full album on We did have one collaborator, Jimmy Catchings, who offered up the prominent sample on "Crushed Grapes." This track was named in Jimmy's honor, and we later turned this beat into an alternate version for Jimmy to rap on, entitled "Why You Running?" The entire album was written, recorded, mixed and mastered within about five days. Thus the inspiration for the song "Making Them Tracks." We were literally staying up all night, making them tracks. Treks marked the last time that FHTB used samples on any of their tracks. After this release, their new music consisted of only original material.

At the same time, we released all of our previous music as free downloads on, including a few exclusive singles. The most notable of these singles, "See the Chain, Know the Biz," won a top-ten spot on ReverbNation's Windows 7 competition out of seventy-seven submitted tracks. There was a sizable prize that went toward a small tour for The Biz, Fresh Hats Tight Beats, and The Winslow Family Band who traveled together through Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Missouri during 2010.

Another notable for Treks was the subsequent release of a remix album by Brian Ahern a.k.a. (deadeye) entitled skerrrt! This album consisted of eight tracks that were all derived from stems of the recordings on Treks. FHTB made all of the stems available for public download and encouraged producers to remix the songs. We were shocked to see that not only did Ahern make a remix, but he remixed nearly the entire album.

Also during 2011, we hosted our first Winslow Family Battle of the Beats where Matt and Zach as Fresh Hats Tight Beats produced a track versus Tim and Phil as The Biz. You can hear "MuSICK is a Weapon" on the list of singles available at

2012 was a big year for FHTB. We released our forth album, That's All We Need, featuring all four members of the group together for the first time on a studio album. In late 2011, Matt Nigro moved to Denver, setting the stage for another FHTB album of a whole new transfiguration. That's All We Need had many differences from our previous albums. We actually spent a few months putting the songs together and refining them until we finally pinned ourselves down in December 2011 to finish the album. There was a lot of internet collaboration that occurred between Denver and Nashville between October and December as we worked to build this album up in a whole different way.

This album was the first time FHTB worked out compostions without any commercial sampling. These tracks carried the same funky, hip-hop sound as the other albums, but we produced all the samples and sounds ourselves. That's All We Need featured Nick Monks as a collaborator and performer on guitar and banjo. With the success of this release, we felt encouraged to try to push our music to a new medium, so we set up a kickstarter to try to fund a seven-inch 45rpm of our favorite tracks on the album. We set a goal of $1100 to fund the pressing of the vinyl as well as screen printing supplies to make the album covers ourselves. On March 27th, 2012 we successfully funded our kickstarter project, setting into motion the pressing of the first Winslow vinyl ever.

With the creation of the FHTB Vinyl, Tim and I started a new record label, Nematode Records. Since the pressing of "Course Clear!" b/w "Cornbread," we have followed up with a second seven-inch from Those Shadow People and have a vinyl from The Biz coming before the end of the year.

What the future holds for Fresh Hats Tight Beats is still somewhat uncertain, but if the past is any representation of what's to come, we're sure that there is still plenty more in store from this outfit. Thanks for all of the support from all our family, friends, and fans over the past five years. We look forward to many more years of creativity as Fresh Hats Tight Beats.

Tune in to today to hear all of our albums in rotation all day. And stay fresh, y'all.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Winslow Radio - Now Playing: Studio-T

Tonight, we're excited to announce the addition of tunes from Tim Santos, a.k.a. Studio-T, to the Winslow Radio rotation. Long time Winslow musician, Tim is a not only a solo producer, but also a major player in many Winslow bands including: Espaso, the Winslow Family Band, Fresh Hats Tight Beats, The Biz, and Those Shadow People. The majority of the tracks under the Studio-T moniker were created during Tim's transitional phase after Espaso and the Winslow Family Band were no more and before The Biz was even imagined. Tim helped to found the instrumental hip-hop group, Fresh Hats Tight Beats, just before he moved from Tennessee to Denver, Colorado. After he settled in his new western homestead, Tim began producing solo tracks as Studio-T, but continued to collaborate with his Winslow family members including AudioSpaceShip, P Buck, and Juan de Winslow. During the Studio-T years, Tim had a short run at his own podcast that featured many of these original tracks and collaborations. You can still find these podcast episodes online at

Tim's solo creations are a combination of dark, synthetic textures and strongly rock-influenced guitar techniques. Studio-T tracks find great success in their complex arrangements that blend with building atmospheric pads and looping guitar tracks. While much of the Studio-T catalog leans toward the dark and spacey side, some tracks like "Flat 5ive" and "Moving In" accent the hopeful and carefree spirit reflective of Tim himself.

Since moving to Denver, Tim has helped to co-found a new band, The Biz as well as a new record label, Nematode Records. There are rumors of new Studio-T tracks in 2013, but at this moment, Tim is busy working on the newest release from The Biz, which will come in the form of a 7-inch vinyl single.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Floozies - At Dusk We Launch

The Floozies - At Dusk We Launch

Tuesday night was big night for new releases, and first up on our new music radar is The Floozies. The Lawrence, KS-based electronic duo has just released their newest album At Dusk We Launch available for free at their official website I personally really appreciate The Floozies for two major reasons: One, I love their live production methods, mixing loopers with Ableton to create that hybrid electronic/analog sound that you just can't get when you watch a guy with a laptop or a good ole fashion power trio. Secondly, I love their musical sensibilites, creating soulful, funky yet futuristic, glitch-tastic soundscapes worthy of Herbie Hancock and RJD2 at the same time. This new release is no exception with the excellent audio flavors that these guys bring to the dinner table.

808s, funky guitar licks, arpeggiated organ licks, whirring and wompy bass lines, laid-back and in the cut beats, samples, samples, and more samples, a remix of Space Jam?!? - All these are just a few of the nuggets of goodness that, in combination, really set the Floozies apart and carry their signature sound into 2012 on At Dusk We Launch. One thing that can't be denied after listening to this album a few times is that these brothers are gangsta. As much as they flex their funk and electronic muscles on this release, they don't shy away from hip hop samples and sensibilities in their production method. The BPM stays slow and low throughout most of the album, and seems to say to the listener, "Lay back, bob your head, and get ready to bump." And bump they do. Although the beat stays in the cut, the bass textures are bringing the gritty nastiness to tracks like "Body Slam" that are sure to make all the bassheads out there very happy.

This album is almost a split personality of musical ideas in that it can flip from 2012-futurebass music to laid-back, guitar-based, funk tunes laden with 80's-worthy synth patches. Yet as disparate as that might sound, somehow they pull it off. The contrast in styles is never jarring and always keeps you jamming to the smooth beats. "Cheezle" is a great example of this flip mode production style with an intro that reflects its name sake, and then almost immediate slaps you in the the face with a glitchy, twerked-out synth bass. "Phat Beat" takes another page from the 80's book with the ever-classic 808 drum machine on the beat. Yet once again, The Floozies don't hesitate to slather on the nastiness of some dubstep-worthy, womped out bass. These compositions might get lost in their electronic elements if it weren't for the tasteful guitar skills of Matt Hill that lead the verses on nearly every song. These tracks are all heavy with samples, and although they help bring a more mainstream appeal to the music (especially from the stand point of the live music goer), I think that in some cases the samples go a bit too far. Maybe its only because I believe that the compositions are strong enough to stand out on their own without the leading voice of a popular commercial sample. My only complaint about At Dusk We Launch is the overkill use of samples and the concurrent use of feedback-heavy delay on a majority of them. With that being said, I think most listeners will disagree with this sentiment as the samples add a level of pop-music reference that any regular show goer can appreciate from an up-and-coming act like The Floozies.

The sonic landscape The Floozies create, with the union of spot-on electronic production and real deal musicianship, is in my opinion, the sound of the future. These brothers are in the good company of many other production/instrumentalist duos that are leading the way in creating a new genre of "fusion" music. Matt Hill's production skills and chops on the guitar and keys with his brother Mark's solid pocket on the drums is an undeniably powerful combo. Ten years ago, when you thought of music that fell under the genre called "fusion," you were talking about jazz artists that were bringing the pop sensibilities of funk and soul to the intricate disciplines of classic, cool jazz while at the same time infusing the music with the sounds of the newest technology. Now, a whole new generation is taking this creative method to another level with the continued integration of new technology and the breaking down of musical barriers. Dubstep is easily one of the most polarizing genres to blow up in this decade, but the smartest musicians and producers are learning how to take the most appealing elements of electronic music and fuse it back into the disciplines they have already mastered. The Floozies are truly a great representation of this zeitgeist going on in the indie music scene right now.

Clocking in at roughly 36 minutes, the release is short and sweet and sure to find its way on to repeat for a little while on your music player. Every song is over four minutes, in fact most average around the five minute mark, which creates a nice rhythm to the album. It keeps you moving through each track, sometimes so smoothly that you may not notice the track change if you aren't actively listening. But by the end of the final track, you're going to want to hit repeat. Go and get this download for free at the official website for the Floozies:, and let them know the Winslows sent ya.

Fresh Hats Tight Beats - That's All We Need

Fresh Hats Tight Beats - That's All We Need

Everyone at Winslow Family Productions is pumped about the newest release from Fresh Hats Tight Beats, entitled That's All We Need. This is the forth album from the group which now is officially a quartet of producers and instrumentalists. Matt Nigro (MattntheHat) joined the production group after his recent move to Denver. Before now, Matt was performing as half of the live FHTB duo. For those that may be scratching their head at this statement, to make a long story short, FHTB was developed as a studio project that was never necessarily intended for the live arena. When the first album came out and promoters starting sending emails to book the group, Zach Matthews and Phil Buck figured out a way to make it happen even though Tim Santos, one of the major contributors to the first album, had just moved to Denver. After a couple of months of shows together, Phil also moved to Denver, thus leaving the live aspect of the group down to one man. To fill the void, Matt stepped up and started playing the live shows with Zach. Since then, Matt has also moved to Denver and joined in with the production of the albums as well. Currently, there are no plans for new shows from FHTB.

That's All We Need is a departure from previous releases because this is the first album that is completely original and sample-free. Like previous albums, the genres and textures varied and diverse, but overall the album is a cohesive sonic experience. Clocking in at nearly 40 minutes with 11 tracks, this is the longest release from FHTB to date. The original album art was made by Leigh Bernstein. The man's face on the cover is actually made of hundreds of tiny icons, each represents an instrument that was actually played on the album. The original conception for these icons was just to use them to represent which instruments were played by each member. You can see this idea if you check out the back cover which is included in the zip file if you download the full album from

This album also features a couple of guest musicians. First up is FHTB and Winslow veteran, Dave Benedict, on the trumpet for the track "Mind the Line". Also featured is new-comer, Nick Monks, who contributed parts on acoustic and electric guitar as well as banjo. Nick was also a major contributor to the composition of "Course Clear!" writing an entire section of the final half of the track.

We're excited to see this new album go out into the world. Please pick it up for free at the official website of FHTB along with their first three albums. And please remember to share that shit!