[Editor's Note: Spare Notes is a Weekly music feature highlighting outtakes and personal stories from bands who just finished working their asses off to put out new music.]
If you've been an activist in Orange County for the past couple of years, chances are you've seen Scott Keltic Knot at a rally proclaiming "Ningún Ser Humano es Ilegal!" (No human being is illegal) through spoken word poetry. Transforming that slogan into song he transitions into hip-hop for his debut album Break the Bank. The eleven-track bilingual effort--Scott Keltic Knot speaks better Spanish than pochos like me!--is produced by El Gallo Negro with another beat dropped by Sherman Austin. The strength of Break the Bank is in its political intellect. On the title track, the spoken word artist turned rapper provocatively asks of neoliberalism, "If a rising tide lifts all boats/ How come poor folks can't float?" On other offerings, he rhymes about water politics on "This is a Desert" and tells people to turn off their sprinklers! Who else in hip-hop is doing shit like that?
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On going from spoken word to rapping:
"Flowing over beats requires a stricter sense of verse and rhythm. Spoken word is expressed more like a conversation with room to enunciate or pause in order to stress certain points. Recording in a studio is also a different experience from projecting your voice into a crowd in a live performance. I was used to just being a lone wolf. The recording process is very technologically intensive and required a concerted effort between me and El Gallo Negro. We worked together adjusting the music and the vocals throughout the recording process. It was difficult for me to stand still and keep my voice level even. I was used to moving around with a mic and varying my volume naturally the way I would in a conversation."
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On the song "To Be Keltic" and its meaning:
"It's a modern hip-hop beat with sounds influenced by traditional Keltic folk music. There are sounds from a flute and an acoustic guitar. Musically, it is a fusion of the old and the new. As for the content of the lyrics: "That's what it means to be Keltic/ Too many ignore the story, so I felt I had to tell it." The Kelts are the ancient peoples of much of Europe and my ancestors. The Keltic cultures developed after living on the same land for thousands of years. The Keltic worldview, as represented by Keltic knots, is one of ecological and cosmological balance. The Druids and bards transmitted complex astronomical knowledge and the oral history. The word Druid means literally "of the oak," referring to the old growth knowledge embodied in our elders and the old growth forests in which we lived. I embrace my Keltic roots in opposition to the Roman imperialism which invaded and enslaved most of the Kelts."
Scott Keltic Knot performs with Sherman Austin, Ill Nes, IChief and others at El Centro Cultural de Mexico, 313 N. Birch Street, Santa Ana. Wed., 8:30 p.m. Free. All Ages.