SCRATCH GUITAR MAESTRO
"It is guitar but a lot of the method is like turntablism" says The Genie, born Luis Monterrosa, the innovator of DJ influenced "scratch guitar" music, who was brought to the attention of many Amoeba Music fans after he appeared two and a half years ago on the two-CD set Amoeba Music Compilation Vol. V with his wonderful composition "Before The World Goes," which was culled from his own album Rebel Music.
As I was just starting to assemble the elements of what would become the fifth volume in the Amoeba Music compilaiton series, which showcases underground/indie artists -- mainly from California and many of them Amoeba Music employees -- Naomi (the marketing person at the San Francisco Amoeba store) told me about a few "must check out" artists for that upcoming collection. Knowing what impeccable taste Naomi has (much earlier she turned me onto Deerhoof long before it seemed anyone knew about them), I immediately dropped everything to check out the artists she recommended, including the Genie. And again she was right. The Genie is definitely a must check out artist!
A resident of the Mission District of San Francisco, the Genie, who has been playing guitar for 18 years, cites among his direct influences such hometown heroes as Carlos Santana and DJ Qbert. And after witnessing the artist's unique music (a melding of virtouso guitar playing with turntablist like manipulations) these two influences make absolutely perfect sense.
"I take a sample and visually play with it," says the musical pioneer and multi-instrumentalist. Via his unique 'scratch guitar' technique, he effortlessly blends such musical styles as hip-hop, reggae, jazz, middle eastern and bossa nova music. When The Genie performs his unique technique he sets the electric guitar on his lap as he literally 'scratches' the stringed instrument slide-guitar style while simultaneously looping beats and effects, and often beat-boxing on the mic.
For more information on The Genie's several releases or upcoming concerts, check out his website or his MySpace, which also contains some video clips, plus some songs, including some performed live at a set he did on KPFA radio in Berkeley and including the song "Apocalypse."