TuneDig is an in-depth and informed conversation between two lifelong friends about the power of music — one album at a time.

In each episode, we go down the rabbit hole to spend a while in the strange world we discover. We take an honest look at creativity in all its complexity—from writing and production to history and cultural impact.

We promise you’ll learn something new every time, no matter how much you already love the album we explore.

Episode 39

The Money Store

Death Grips

The modern world is accelerating beyond our control, shaping our reality in ways we can’t yet perceive or understand. Enter Death Grips, an art project capturing the chaotic energy and illustrating the absurdity of our hubris in trying to harmonize the surreal and extremely real — never more perfectly than on 2012’s prescient The Money Store.


Cliff: Today we’re talking about The Money Store by Death Grips.

I would label this episode, Kyle, as maybe the most intense concentration of both desperately wanting to talk about a band and desperately not wanting to have to try to talk about a band all at once. Death grips is like a kind of impossible enigma to relay or convey to anyone. First of all, it’s impossible to convey what is going on with death grips to someone who actively cares and is listening to what you have to say. And much less anyone who is, y’know, half-assing at paying attention. 

Kyle: I spiraled a little. I had a little bit of trying to recall what my own face looked like in a dream that I had one time, and that I would have to describe that to you. I was worried that we get here and the whole episode would just be like, “I dunno man, it’s Death Grips. Just go do the thing, it’s Death Grips!”

Cliff: It’s sort of like if you find a therapist you like, and then you also find a neurosis of yours that you like to talk about, how there is like how there’s just like a bottomless hole of, like, I could talk about this literally for the rest of my life and I would entertain myself, but I’ve no idea if what I’m saying is making sense or if my hour is up. Are we going to pick this back up next week? Or like, have we definitely expired talking about this or do I need to do some personal work on the inside and stop thinking about it? Just what I described there is like the sensation I get trying to collect my thoughts around Death Grips, and especially this particular time in 2012 for The Money Store and its immediately surrounding albums and releases. I mean, this was An explosion of internet directly in our lives at a time where we didn’t really know that the internet could be an explosion of things. Very 2020 energy crammed into this 2012 moment. For sure. But I think like one of the things that we talked about that we hope that we can do in this episode, aside from maybe do do like a verbal motif on the art project that his Death Grips is try to bring in some specific people. One is if you’ve never heard of death grips, we would love to give you an on-ramp so that your first 30 seconds of listening to them, doesn’t turn into the last 30 seconds that you’ve ever listened to them.

Kyle: … or a panic attack.

Cliff: Mmm, yeah, more or less the same sensation you’ll feel. So people who aren’t familiar. People who are familiar and maybe are amicable to the Death Grips style of music but haven’t really come back to it or haven’t paid a lot of attention to it.  both of those folks, especially like this is a great record to hop back into in kind of rediscovered the aspects of death grits, and there Eventual successors or counterparts. It’s a good place to start kind of thinking about what you do and don’t like about experimental hip hop in a time I would say, I know the hip hop has always been expanding basically since it existed, but to me it feels like the rate and the depth of experimentation, especially with dance and electronic and hip hop affiliated music exploded starting around 2012. And what death grips in similar bands were doing about that same time.

Kyle: The universe expanded in a huge way in 2012. And so much of the rabbit hole that I went down just trying to get back in a head space that didn’t feel like that long ago, but obviously enormously was just in terms of the tools available and of communication, and I kept kind of spiraling out. I kept kind of going up and down the same Penn Rose staircase. And you have my correspondences over the past few days of being Jim Carrey in The Number 23 with, like, “NOIDED” scrawled all over my face pen. But when I, when I zoom back out, I keep coming back to this article that you sent me recently. The headline is the modern world has finally become too complex for any of us to understand.

Cliff: I love that you’re bringing this up right now. Fantastic.

Kyle: I, I want to share it in the thread when, when we release this episode, I think 2012 was also the point at which guys in the band, when they do interviews. And there were so many more interviews than I ever remember there being exac and Andy both talked to the press more than they gave the impression that they did. They talk a lot about acceleration in terms of a motif of their band, but they also talk about, the place beyond information oversaturation right. Where it just like broke the system. The world that we built finally got out from, in front of us, you know, And there is such a surreality to the digital world and was where it finally started coming fruition with YouTube and Tumblr was huge then. And so it got to be visual and like meme culture really was taking off. and that is disorienting. so enter this group whose whole energy is extremely brutally, even physical visceral, violent. Very, very real. And abrasion between those two forces kind of winds up being their whole deal. But I was trying to remember how I even came across this band in the first place, in the sea of like, this is the same year that Good Kid Mad City came out. Childish Gambino was still the guy from Community that was trying out the rap thing and still was doing like lo Wayne type bars. And so I went back down the rabbit hole, our friend Elliot and I had a blog at the time and I found the post late 2011, That’s just guillotine video, which is like a super singular image now, that’s still, and Glover, extremely online Donald Glover, had posted it from his personal tumbler account where he just was a regular dude, curating architecture and photos of babes. And in what we can clearly see as a super misogynistic way, but the rate of acceleration. You know, being at the end of 2020 at the beginning of 2021. how much life has been packed into the past 12 to 18 months. this might as well have been a hundred years ago, and maybe there’s a point in there. And maybe there isn’t, but the point that I’m trying to make is that to look at death grips and specifically 2012 Death Grips is a little illustrative snapshot the world that we live in now, good, bad, and ugly. So to a point that you made before we started recording, it’s absurd to try to find meaning in anything, maybe, in life. To try to extract some kind of meaning into this thing that is like, it draws you in. You can’t help it at a gut level, something about it, both repulses and draws you in, maybe there’s something to that. that’s a balm that we need. I don’t know.

Cliff: you know, one thing that stood out to me, like relative to that you’ve already brought up one of, one of my favorite misnomers, I guess, about death scripts, which is like, There’s a lot of interviews and there are just as many articles that say right at the beginning, death grips doesn’t do interviews. Um, so, so they’re like their ability to push their persona onto people and leave that as the lasting impression in opposition to actual reality is like other worldly. they have themselves become a meme that people are unable to express without, honestly, really close up examination or experience. And so to me, the other thing that I left out is I was listening to another podcast episode, That was really interesting. Actually, one of the guys on it was from w R E K back in the day. and you know, they were talking about the money store. it’s a really good review. That would be, very different than the discussion we’ll have today, but it was cool to hear because, especially hearing from somebody who works at or who worked at a radio, They chose to listen to the money of based on the album art alone, because that’s a lot of how albums used to get spun, right? does the artwork stand out to the duties go in through everything in the mail. but one of the things they talked about because, two guys discussing it, there were Atlanta based or Atlanta familiar, at least, they were talking about how they couldn’t imagine a death grip show in Atlanta and they can’t imagine that it would have gone off well, because the punk style of death grits seems so antagonistic to the like extensively trap, underbelly of Atlanta and whatever. And I’m like, I listen to that sentence and I paused it and I was like, no, we went to that show. We went to that show at sound table and. It was one of the most coherent Atlanta experiences I’ve ever had actually that caught me so off guard, because also remember in the lead up to go into that show, we talked a lot about like, this is. Going to be weird, right? Like this is a weird band sound table was and I can say was unfortunately at this point, but sound table was a place where hip hop acts went.  It wasn’t quite designed for the kind of half rock and roll type setup that death grips does live. And it was a weird fit and match for the energy that we knew would come from the music. Because again, usually a lot more laid back, you got a sound table, like with a date. and so that was always the vibe. And yet seared into my memory is standing in that tiny room with a bunch of people who 100% loved death grips every single person in that room. as opposed to some of the kind of funny missives about other cities, it was definitely not all white, but there was a fair representation, uh, myself included; hi. But the dark red hue of that room is like seared into my memory and emcee rides, like energy, where he controlled that entire space. And the whole thing all at once was like a currency, hip hop show a night at Compound, and a night with the Ramones at CBGBs. And it was, it was all smashed up together and it all made so much sense, but yet It would have been a total opposite experience to explain to someone who would have tried to imagine what death grips is going to be like playing in Atlanta, you know, in the middle of a, of the hip hop capital of the South, so that alone to me is like even just one of a million good examples of like, It’s not that Death Grips is like smarter than you or that you’re not getting it or that you’re trying too hard. It’s sort of like you’re moving your mouse around on the computer screen and the window is avoiding your mouse, like used to happen, you know? And you’re trying to chase it around and close the pop-up, but like the whole joke is that it’s physically impossible to close the pop-up. So just continuing to talk about Death Grips and especially The Money Store … This was one of the first times that they just kind of like laid down the, no, we are both capable of being extremely experimental and being on Epic Records– thanks LA Reid– and there’s nothing wrong or confusing about it, and we’ll only stay in this place for a few months, basically. so it feels like you have to kind of talk about Death Grips almost like in stories and in experiences and in moments. Cause otherwise, anytime you try to define it, they’ve kind of like scooted out the back of your definition.

Kyle: there’s a lot of inception type moments where you have to, you have to touch something. You have to ground yourself on the physical ground, in the physical realm. Uh 

Cliff: My token is this blunt, baby.

Kyle: I was talking to my brother about that show cause he went with us and I had totally forgotten. We were talking about 2012 and hip hop. that year was book-ended with beginning of the year, we went to ASAP Rocky’s for a show in Atlanta, the masquerade, with two nine open-end forum or Curtis Williams from two nine, at least. that was like One type of experiences, where there was like genre bending and interesting stuff going on. And then I want to say the death grip show was toward the end of the year. Right. It was after no love came out cause they played some of those songs.  And I do remember feeling like it was the closest I would ever come to being at like a Black Flag show, spiritually, 

Cliff: Not today’s Black Flag.

Kyle: No. Right.

Cliff: I made that mistake.

Kyle: I felt in that moment and I, I rarely have this feeling when we go to shows, but I felt in that moment, like we were experiencing a moment in real time. and the craziest part of that whole thing. And I tell this story often because I still have not had another live music experience like it. And obviously we’ve had a lot, The venue, the Sound Table is right on Edgewood Avenue, right? Heavily foot trafficked party district, closest thing to a party district we have in the city. And it’s at Edgewood and Boulevard, a huge intersection that’s widely trafficked all night, every night on the weekends, this was a Friday or Saturday night show.

Cliff: yeah, like the cops shut it down from car traffic. It’s been known to like have little drag races and cars doing donuts and crowds like that sort of vibe.

Kyle: so hopefully that gives some context to what I’m about to say. They played for an hour or so straight. I mean, it was a really tribal primal thing…  there was just such a big, one breath in, at the beginning of the thing. And then they just destroyed the room and then left a lot of noise, going at the end and picked up their s**t up, walked through the middle of the crowd… ’cause it was like a long room, like a laundromat… walked through the middle of the crowd out onto Edgewood Avenue. The crowd followed them out and they were gone. And I know that’s a myth. I know they went somewhere around the back of the building or somewhere, but no one could find them. They ostensibly vanished into thin air there in the middle of the night in Atlanta. I know that’s not true. And yet that’s exactly what Death Grips is; like, the sensation of that moment of knowing it’s a magic trick and knowing it’s not real. And knowing that they didn’t probably think about, talk about, plan to do anything like that. It’s just such a weird self-reinforcing thing. It’s just like, “Well, this is what it means to be here, alive, now. That was great. That was strange. That hurt my brain and my body, but I want more of it.” Existence is an ouroboros of pain. 

Cliff: You know, the only, well, the comparisons I’ve heard that make any sense when people try to talk about a live show, which again as opposed to a lot of other bands, there is absolutely no comment you can make about a death grips live show, unless you have been to one, because it just won’t make sense. Um, And I say that after having I’ve now spent a couple of weeks really listening to people try. But th the only comparisons I’d heard from people who had experienced it which we’ll probably mention his name a little bit later too, but Anthony Fantano was like the only band that’s like this live is converged, period. It’s one huge inhale, like you said, and then raw catharsis, and then we’re done. And when you’re done, you feel tired. like, you were really a part of something that was meaningful, but on top of it, like the layer that helps with the converge comparison is it sounded incredible. It was so good.

Kyle: is wild because I, I read multiple people that said they weren’t loud enough. They sounded like shit. It was only two. It was a laptop D tune drums.  I wanna rap sort of at the end of this, with some of the weird places that they went live later. I think it’s very in keeping with their ethos, that people had such wildly different experiences based on the time and place that they saw them.

 Cliff: So maybe the best thing we can do cause you’ve done a pretty good job of laying it out. It’s like try to give a concentrated version of how this band appeared, because I would say unlike most bands or artists that we cover, there’s not really a. Well, there’s usually like an undercurrent of overnight success story that took place over the, you know, the course of 10 years. Uh, and then they had a breakout and whatever. Death grips sort of like, popped onto the RPG map from nowhere. And then just where characters.

Kyle: only way that you would have maybe had any inkling that something like this was coming as if you were a Zach Hill fan, had drummed in a band called Hella that was kind of a cult phenomenon. He had put out really super weird, essentially free jazz and electronic solo records. he played on some of Omar Rodriguez Lopez’s stuff. So if you went way down the Mars Volta rabbit hole, which not a lot of people went out with their tentacles, you would find Zach Hill buried in there. You mentioned recently he was part of team sleep with Chino from Deftones. Didn’t know that until literally a few days ago. you know, the, the virus was always kind of there lurking in the background, but, Oh, that’s a weird analogy to use coming out of 2020, but, um, Most people were largely unprepared and didn’t wear a mask and response. all right. so real quick primer. I started realizing I was putting our notes together. One of the things that struck me right away was I was putting dates by things because the order of events was so condensed. So a little bit of that Otis blue thing, where it happened in an inordinately short amount of time, indicating that it was lightening in a bottle, painted a picture for me. especially around acceleration. So, The period we’re talking about is mid to late 2011 to mid to late 2012. So I mentioned a video started circulating mostly on Tumblr it’s mysterious and minimalist and scary that video is guillotine. We now know that as MC Ride, with TV static in his eyes and in the car window, he’s in the passenger seat, he’s buckled up, which in an interview they mentioned was a specific creative choice, which is amazing. the full mix tape that accompanies it called ex-military with a weird manipulated image, of face that has not ride. Hits their website, third worlds.net, info on who made it. And it’s full of samples, like link raised rumble, A Jane’s addiction song a Charlie Manson interview. A Charlie Manson interview is the first vocals that you hear. If you go to listen to this record. and Like I mentioned, I saw it on Donald Glover’s tumbler presented without comment. And the thing is a little bit of a viral sensation because not grounded in anything. We don’t know who these people are, where it came from. And this is in the height of blog culture, right? When you can find anything about anyone, And there’s a new Wiz Khalifa song, every 32 seconds, you can go on DatPiff and it’s personality culture, right. Um, You know, we have an XXL freshmen list we’re learning about 12 new people every year that are the anointed new faces of hip hop. is none of that. This is anti all of that. so I found a quote from, Angelica Cod, Baylor, who is the VP of marketing at Epic records at the time. And somebody sent her the guillotine video and she said, about six seconds. And I was just sucked in saw was a band that had the ability to capture violent, raw aggression that I hadn’t seen this decade, obviously, Angelica hadn’t been to a converged show. I couldn’t sleep that night. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I was scared of them. I couldn’t resist the feeling of just wanting to be a part of it. Those last two sentences. I was scared of them and I couldn’t resist the feeling of just wanting to be a part of it. it did have that feeling a little bit of watching the video in the ring you’re like, I’m definitely going to die, but tight. Um, So fast forward a little bit to the end of 2011 I mean, fast forward, really only a little bit. And they met with LA Reid. Like they did some label shopping, apparently, Epic records was the last stop on that tour. LA Reid and company signed them in the room night and Reed, even compared them to Whitney Houston who had just died. not obviously musically at all, but just the raw feeling, way it made him feel, is interesting. Cause I think that’s all they’re going for is think Kempsey, right? Even said it’s all about glorification of the gut. it’s an it project. so ahead of an April 24th, 2012 release state. the record gets leaked because that was the thing that used to happen. you could just find the copy of it and download it and put it on a CD. I feel like I sound like I’m a hundred years old saying that already. And again,

Cliff: fine, man. We used to go on, has it leaked every day? It’s

Kyle: that’s right. is there a torrent, the pirate bay.org? when it leaked, 10 days ahead of schedule, they just uploaded the whole thing to SoundCloud and YouTube, which is kind of normal behavior now, right? To like run the Juul. It gives all their stuff away for free, and that’s become kind of a common practice you monetize in other ways. But as we would come to find over the course of their career, they don’t really give much of a shit about that. They only care about revenue to help expand the mission of the art project. Little did we know at the time, on the packaging of the money store. there was a sticker that announced the second album. love coming fall 2012. So already they got another one, proverbially in the can. and within the next few days, I think it was May 5th. had a previously announced slate of 30 days of touring that summer they canceled it tell their manager, didn’t tell anybody at the record label, they were just like, we gotta finish this other record piece. mean, I think it was like a tweet, 

Cliff: remember it being immediate and, for lack of a better term, devastating, like not necessarily to me as a person, but just like the feeling of it. Like you could tell that no one knew what was

Kyle: that’s right.

Cliff: And I think like at the time too, unless you were super into death grips, which I can’t admit. That R was in the sense that I now know what it means to be really deep into death grips. And I was never there. you mentioned that interaction with LA reading and getting signed, like apparently even during that meeting, They’re shopping around. They didn’t really care if it was Epic or not the supposed kind of posture of Epic and LA Reed is like, look, hip hop goes in weird directions. The kids like this, like we’ve got to sign this band before they get away and go do something else. Right. and so they have that kind of approach, which means death grips is in the kind of like universally perfect position to accept a record label and maintain creative control. And what did they do instead? Well come to find out NC ride left in the middle of the meeting to go to the bathroom and just graffiti the inside of the Epic labels bathroom. they just started like jacking around just like doing whatever they felt like doing to these people who like their antagonism made Epic, want to sign them more. So then they didn’t let them leave until they signed a record deal.

Kyle: and Zach Hill apparently was so stoned as a gum fell out of his mouth and was just resting, on his hoodie. And somebody had to point out to him, that it was there and he was like, Oh man. Um, and

Cliff: I remember catching that detail that they were really stoned. that’s always a reminder that the world is evenly split into two types of people who do, and don’t fully understand being very stowed in that situation.

Kyle: we’ll probably talk about more in a little bit. eventually, as they continue to infiltrate, like they see all this as an infiltration mission and, and an extension of their performance art is like manipulating the energy of these interactions so that they go the way that potentially they might want them to, you know, girls named Brittany talk about manifesting all the time. Like this is that, but in a way more like pagan occultists way and ride has Baphomet tattoos and like all sorts of, don’t want to go too far down that rabbit hole because I think they do it in the same way charlie Manson did it. just for shock value. But it does speak to, like at one point, Zach was talking about, he had a conversation with his brother where they talked about magic, the gathering and the control deck, where you like use someone’s own magic back against them.

And it resulted in contract was printed by Simon cowl, who was the last person in the Epic offices that night. And so they’re just stoned as balls. the American idol guy prints their contract and they signed it at like 10:00 PM that night. And apparently MC ride didn’t say anything during the interaction. except when LA Reid was like, we want to sign you tonight before you leave. He apparently looked up after not saying anything. And it was like, that’s what I’m talking about. there’s a lot of now the way that they operate as people outside of making of the music itself, that feels like that principle where when one person doesn’t talk in a conversation for long enough, the other person will say everything like the interrogation technique. If you just sit and look at a person break down and give you everything that you need, like that’s, that’s the control deck, it’s all about being grounded in your power something like it all feels stupid and foolish. Like every sentence that comes out of my mouth, trying to talk about the insanity of these dudes and what they were trying to pull off from pure ed. makes sense when you’re just moving through it. And it’s like, yes, that’s exactly how I want to move through the world. And then when you talk about it, it feels like such a stupid and futile exercise. think that’s why I hate Fantana is reviews. Of this band and his general fandom of this band so much. We were talking about an album one time and you were like, like I’m listening to somebody talk about our review of, it was like, um, them trying to describe space mountain with the lights on what talking about.

what talking about death grip at all like, you know, you either, don’t get it or it’d be a lot cooler if you did. so they go back to, they’re in Sacramento, they’re, they’re essentially living in squalor an apartment above practice space or whatever. they’re completing this album over the summer of 2012 and there’s a great spin article that is like the single longest document on this band. one of the ones that got the most direct access to them, it said that they were plagued by our spiral of alienation and isolation. because the first show on that scheduled tour was the Sacramento electronic music passed, which was happening nine blocks away. Right So they’re just in this head space of being alienated from the world. And when you listen to know love deep web, I know we’re here, I’ll sensibly to talk about the money store, but you kind of can’t talk about one without the other. Like we’re just kind of 2012 death grips the document.

Cliff: well, and if we had to pick an album, we’re going to do the one that doesn’t have Zack Hill’s deck on it.

Kyle: right.

Cliff: yeah.

 Kyle: I was listening, last night on the couch and, I was listening to NOLA deep web and My wife, the actual visual artist looked over and saw the writing on his Dick. she was like, even lay it out well on there. know, it would go vertical. Like, I didn’t know that he wrote part of it on the head as well.

It’s like, no love, no love D and then on the head is per web. I got way more or acquainted with that artwork than I ever wanted to. so they had this record it’s super heavy, but it’s also pretty minimal. It doesn’t feature the layering and the sampling and some of tighter pop sensibilities that the money store had. they flew back to LA to share. That record with Epic and their two biggest advocates they come to find had been fired. And, they were kind of dejected over that, flew back to Sacramento, packed all their shit into storage, came back to LA to try to figure out what their situation was going to be infiltrated their way into the Chateau Marmont, has its own rabbit hole. But like when you think about seventies led Zepplin decadence in Hollywood, that’s where that took place.

It’s a $500 a night hotel that clamor to get into, but they essentially snuck in a back door then use their advanced money  rent a room that they had for two months. And they just turned it into this like weird ritual compound. And when they went back to Epic records, they had a meeting with like the COO or somebody who took them into Angelica.

One of their two big advocates, their earliest advocates, shell of an office. Zack talked about the psychic warfare of that. Just like they don’t get us. And so that was the moment where they were like, we got to get out of this. We gotta get control back. It was a good experiment to try to be on this label, but obviously it’s not gonna work out.

so by September 30th, they announced again, online Epic records was refusing to release no love until the following year, instead of the original plan, date of October 23rd. And they’re totally at odds because they haven’t toured behind this record or anything like that. They’re already trying to release another one.

So that’s September 30th, the next day on ten one, they were like, Epic is going to hear this record at the same time as all y’all and they self release it on October 1st for free, including on BitTorrent, where it got 34.1 million legal downloads. Okay. And I’m thinking this whole time, what could Epic and the industry have learned from this case study?

Like 34 million downloads number one legal download on BitTorrent that whole year. And it’s got a Dick on the cover.

Cliff: the day that they announced or debuted, I guess that album art work, All of us who are Deathgrip fans, who also have a full-time job with access to a computer were outed. All of a sudden, everyone was like, what are you looking at? What, okay. It’s not quite that bad, but it is from this awesome band that he definitely won’t like, let’s not talk anymore for the rest of the day.

Kyle: and that’s where the that’s where internet culture really did its thing. Because if you go on know your meme, there’s a whole page of, alternate or parody covers where people covered it with a subway sandwich or, we, even with the website that we had at the time we covered it with Nan cat. Well, we just like went all the way internet because the website was a visual grid of album covers so that you could review them. knew that was going to be one of the top reviewed records at the time. And we were like, we can’t just have a Dick on the website when you land on it.

Cliff: said every music website that exact day, like it was. I like, hopefully people know, listening to us at this point. Like, we’re, we’re pretty opposed to being two white guys who make Dick jokes, uh, on their podcasts all the time. So like, I’m pretty allergic to just like a body humor like that, And I hated it still. Like I still wish they had done something different. And yet the level of how the troll played itself out was incredible for not only because it was popping up everywhere as a new release, all of a sudden, a lot of times on platforms that don’t have pornographic mechanisms for album art covers, first of all.

But secondly, then yeah. It’s like, even if people could have figured out, well, like this is a nothing band that released nothing and I don’t have to worry about it. Well then thanks to the 34 million downloads. There it is all over the internet. Now at a time when algorithms are starting to bud that try to push the most popular things to the top.

And so it was just this incredible, like internet wide Reddit out troll to all these different places and like, Expanded their footprint with exactly the people that they wanted to expand it

Kyle: I just want to present without comment, the quote from the spin article ride, who again, re is the one who does rarely say anything to the press or engaged with them at all. He responded to the interest by saying, if you look at that and all you see as a Dick, I don’t have anything to say pretty much.

looked at it and said, this is a great photo. And I’d love for this to be the album cover Hill further explained? It was difficult to do, honestly, in general, it was very difficult. Tell that to any, tell that to any politician in America. I started at present without comment. It’s difficult, even telling people that’s the source of it.

It feels sacrificial in a sense idea existed long before, by the way, before what is going to sound funny to other people, but we saw it as tribal, as spiritual as primal. Also, it comes from a place of being a band that’s perceived as an aggressive male-based by some misogynistic seeming band.

a display of embracing homosexuality. Not that either of us are homosexual. Am I making sense? All right, is that Zach? You’re spiraling a little, um, People are still gonna think that it’s macho, but that’s not the source of where it comes from. And in a separate interview with Pitchfork, he’ll expound it.

It’s also a spiritual thing. It’s fearlessness. It represents pushing past everything that makes people slaves even knowing it. So to your point about troll level trolling troll level guarding, it’s sort of like, is that what you really mean? But you just, I mean, it’s turtles all the way down.

If you try to, if you try to expand on it, 

Cliff: right. You ask about a Dick on the cover and you get an extremely sincere answer.

Kyle: hold on, man. I was not ready for this.

Cliff: you know, in like, again, like focusing on the moments brings out the death grips, as opposed to trying to describe it. I’m like, this is another one because this is the same band, which I hope we can talk briefly about their idea of acceleration, but. You know, taking what you just mentioned in terms of like actually their response to it was kind of like, well, actually we know that people will read further into us being a hyper-masculine angry band.

And this album cover is only going to make that worse. And yet. This is the same band who says we consider ourselves feminists. We fiercely support homosexuality, transparent world leadership. And the idea of embracing yourself as an individual in any shape or form acceleration is a mantra. We’re not a political band.

We are freaks and outsiders like constantly slipping past your attempt to conclude whatever they have just done.

Kyle: love it. And I, think that, that idea of  trying to describe. The not to be a literalist, but to describe purpose and intent a lot longer. It goes a lot further than, than trying to interpret what you’re literally seeing and hearing. Which you know, again, coming out of 2020 is a, is a weird thing to say, like, don’t believe your eyes and ears.

But when it doesn’t make sense, you’ve got to kind of go another level deeper. Right. You kind of got to get down to the why. There are incredible statements of intent buried within, and again, thinking about these guys as artists and self-described visual artists there’s a lot of nuggets that you can string together after a while.

And we started to be able to, after a while about what they’re really trying to do and I just want to quickly hit on a handful. the same mentality and processes apply to how we work on both video and music. We often work backwards by starting with pieces of something that we have purposely destroyed.

We see all things spiraling to a point where the elements of chaos become uncontrollable system shattering. We continually referenced this in our art. Our processes are designed to malfunction. how we get really interesting sounds. We build songs out of those failures. And you mentioned the, What are they really saying when they’re like, when you’re open sourcing our relationship with our fans, we take our, take our ego out. This is an ongoing open collaboration with the world. that feels like student bullshit.  there’s also a lot of like, that’s what makes them now?

two of my favorite quotes were once our art’s been poured into the information stream, which again, this idea of information overload, becomes someone else’s and mutates infinitely like a feedback loop. And we’ll talk about some of the ways they executed that in their actual art.

The hope is that it’s enhancing reality for the people connecting with it. Like it does ours when we were making it. And then Zack also said, so it’s weird to be like, our band is like the internet, but actually it kind of is you have all the lowest level activities side-by-side with the highest intellect happening within the same realm.

the interviewer said your two seconds away from porn and a Ted talk at all times. we want our music to work the same way at once. And that, hope we can transition a little bit into the the actual Sonics, and not try to be too literal or textual because some of the descriptions are so groan worthy talking about this band, because it is so visceral and it does give you such an immediate reaction the language around it tends to be hyperbolic, but there’s some really incredible stuff happening 

Cliff: truly. And like in, especially with the money store, which, uh, jokes about no love deep while the side is like, is the reason we wanted to focus on this album because it’s, it’s, it’s actually a great pop record.

Kyle: Yeah. The, these are pop songs for sure. I mean, I’ve seen footage. Right. Kind of at the center of this record, is a bonafide on ironic hit, and it spawned a whole kind of meme direction. Like Noida became a part of meme, culture vocabulary, and you started seeing it in comments and all that. It’s got a legit, we’re on tour music video.

the, if you need a three minute, seven inch 45 RPM introduction to this band, this is death grips is blueberry Hill, if you will. Well, and it sounds like it’s, cause it kinda sounds like a salt and pepper song. If you ran it through a meat grinder or something, there’s a really crazy songs.

And I think a lot of the craziness comes from the rhythm and like the Zack Hill pole. And then there is a song like I’ve seen footage or a song like hacker, the last song. Um that’s like, uh, almost an, almost like got a nineties Savage garden, Euro club feel thing, but then you have a guy very close to the mic and, and screaming, most of the time, like, why are you, why are you always yelling? Um, once you can see past some of you can see past some of those things that are clearly like the character or are part of a performance, uh, a little bit like learning a language to get into the Lord of the rings or some shit like that. And then you’re like, all right, I’m all in. I get the vocabulary. I know the characters now. I’m good to go press play, play it loud.

Cliff: and it’s a little bit to do user Lord of the rings analogy was there’s one I did not expect,

Kyle: Me neither.

Cliff: But like, okay. So to your point about like there’s a whole Elvish language that’s a part of it. And like, if you learn more about the story itself, you get a deeper experience of the stories. You can read them without knowing anything. You can read it, knowing all this stuff, but especially for the money store, like a couple of things to touch on. Again, especially for people who are relatively new or haven’t really heard death grips before. There’s to extend that Lord of the rings analogy. It’s almost like if token kept throwing out irrelevant details at all times throughout the entire story, in a way that at first makes you feel like they’re intentionally trying to distract you from the story. And then only later would you realize that actually, if you ignore the story and pay attention to the details, you get a second story. And like, but you don’t expect any of it because the demeanor of the people presenting it to you is so not serious that it, like, it feels impossible that there’s this like underlie. I see you nodding so hard. Like it’s so hard to describe, but there’s constantly something that’s feeling like it’s going to be throwing you off in the music, but actually if you’ll just note it. And set it to the side. You can come back to it later and enjoy the song in a different way. And so like one quote I loved about like the listening to death grips experience was the initial first listen to Death Grips is arguably the most important I would agree with this. It isn’t so much a regular listening experience so much as it is a wild. And affair that either compels you to twist to their will or to be absolutely steamrolled under MC rides, crude display of unadulterated power. you will either love it, or you will be wildly offended that it exists.

Kyle: Yeah that’s true.

Cliff: as opposed to a lot of bands that you can just kind of approach and listen, and just have that open mind. You would have to find yourself in a, in a pretty unique head space to just approach death, grips like mind emptied and expect to have a super great time, unless you’re already pretty into something like this.

Kyle: I think you’re even intrigued a little and if you’re far enough down the rabbit hole as a music fan that are listening to our podcasts in the first place I argue the door is at least a little open and some light is shining through it. Right.  not sure at this point in this episode if the bat shit story we told earlier, didn’t get ya.

I think there, there are three things in the money store that can get their hooks in you. One is there are hooks this record, 

Cliff: Oh, they’re so good. The songs are so actually literally regularly good.

Kyle: it’s freeform and it’s chaotic there’s a lot of collaging and layering, again, I’ve seen footage got us straight up chorus, hacker got a straight up chorus. there are, I mean, I guess like the fever, has kind of two layers of chorus or frame there’s the fever. Like I got the fever and then the AA, there’s things that they come back to. frankly, now that I’m looking at it, almost all of these songs have some kind of a reframe or a pop thing. pick one you, you maybe like, or can get your head around and listen to it a bunch. The second thing is. to appreciate how it was made. And there’s not a lot that talks about the process of making their music. They appear to be pretty secretive about that part, though it’s really raw and frankly pretty minimal and strict down. But it’s very and tactical and the more videos of them I watched in their practice space, the more I tried to ride the lightning and pin down what was happening in my ears at any given point, it felt like a ZZ top for dystopia, it’s like three guys, but they make a lot of noise, you know? So the first thing, Zach, Hill’s all over this thing, right? Like he, he had a million projects in the ether and decided to focus all his energy on death grips. And that’s why you see him as the face of the band. So often. So all of these rhythms, we talked about Dangelo and their decision to not quantize this is if you took that in chaotic, evil direction, too, it’s terminal They’re either played live or their program live on a Roland and for Zack Hill compared to hella, they’re pretty minimal, is a crazy word to say about the rhythms that you’re hearing, but they’re, pretty straight forward and rock and rolly. Then you have these crazy industrial sense and Sonics, that. Andy Morin or flat Lander. I don’t even know what the hell that nickname means. he layers those in, then you have MC ride who, you know, talks about his glorification of the gut. deal is not a rapper. And so that’s when you say, or when Anthony Fantano says or any reviewer calls, this hip hop. I struggle with that a lot because MC ride, even the name MC ride, not really doing a hip hop thing. I mean, it’s, more like the scariest spoken word I’ve ever heard. it feels like stream of consciousness, but there really is a precision to it. And apparently they write as a group and then refine, and a lot of their lyrics. Don’t make a lot of sense, but they leave an impression like they are layer literally impressionistic in that way. And is telling that they release all of their lyrics. They’re available on their website. That is a breadcrumb that they want you to sit with and interpret them. So that’s all part of the performance. And then the other thing is samples.  hope we can sit and spend a minute talking about their unique approach because we’ve now established on this podcast. How much I like that as an art form in music.

Cliff: The money store as a major label, debut presents an interesting moment related to samples, right? Because with ex-military more or less, I mean the whole point of a mixtape is basically you can kind of do whatever you want without a lot of trouble. Now you’re signed to Epic. which means you got to get all that stuff cleared. I mean, they could literally block it, or try to block it, uh, in a lot of ways if you don’t get those cleared. So to me, like that’s also worth considering here is like the samples are concentrated and probably had to go through a new process that they’re not used to. but they’re also a band who we’re constantly waffling between like, Hipster idiocy and like a very self serious artists somehow. And like, they just exist in the space between those two things. But like their sampling is a mixture of not just songs, but like basically like clipped field recording type shit, just like random sound. Isn’t Venus Williams on this

Kyle: So system blower is the best example on this record, because not only does it feature phone recording of Venus Williams at the U S open grunting, and that, is the drop for system blower. There’s like, it’s a noise. It’s like, wow. 

So that noise is actually being this William grunting and then the gear shift sound that’s like, Whoa is from a six minute, just slow TV, YouTube video of the Vancouver SkyTrain leaving from the station. these guys just were down a YouTube rabbit hole and went full because of the internet. And it’s mostly a combination of. That kind of stuff and their own music, like little bitty snippets from their own stuff. wrote an article said “are death grips the most important act of the decade?” And my favorite quote from that article was “for death grip sampling has moved past the notion of lifting an exterior sound and building off of it. And into uncharted territory. a seemingly endless journey of self reference and refinement that creates a dialogue with their entire output if all timelines of their work are infinitely coexisting.” What?! 

Cliff: You have to say stuff like that to even approach explaining anything, which is one of the reasons I love this band.

Kyle: well, and they have a literal execution of that too. did a project in 2012 called retro grade where they recorded 109 videos of themselves playing live in their practice space, uploaded them all to a YouTube channel then embedded all 109 of those videos into essentially like a drum machine style interface website, where you could turn on and off the videos to like build a noise soundscape. And it was as fucking insane as it sounds. It’s not still up. Maybe it is if you go to the internet archive, but I mean, it was like an overwhelming experience, but how free form and weird and crazy and cool, like nobody’s doing marketing stuff that daring and inventive. Cause I know it’s not really marketing to them. It’s wild, wild.

Cliff: what’s interesting too, is to really appreciate how they do manage to put all this together. So we now have like a broad range of samples that we can pull, but on top of it, they’ll do it. It’s not only the juxtaposition of those different sounds in a way that’s always really creative and interesting.

It’s that plus. The hook that’s always there somehow, um, especially on the money store, but then it’s also, they really love to Jack with your sense of time in the samples themselves, oftentimes like, especially in. The cage. So the, cage has, uh, almost a like kind of modern glitchy, dubstep II type feel to it from time to time.

And the main hook itself of throwback to me sounds like bad, bad, not good, like all the way, But like underneath, when you start listening to the individual samples carefully, they’re just slowing and speeding up little parts of the sample underneath. And when you layer that on top of NC ride, a, by having that level of energy and exertion, he makes you feel like he’s predictable, but actually he’s real clever.

Like he pulls back a lot and does real subtle changes. So that. Again, a song like the cage takes, what would have otherwise been honestly, kind of a bland dish pop song? especially if they’d put a, you know, a different vocalist on top of it, but then that combination of a pop song, plus NC ride, plus the samples and distorting their own like BPM.

Right. Creates this real sense of uneasiness throughout the whole thing. that’s just one kind of example of the way they kind of like pull and tug on you through the music. So like, it’s hard to describe, but you know, you’ve talked about them being essentially like kind of simplistic and bare bones almost, but yet they have layer after layer. Each layer itself is not necessarily complex, but because they seem to spend so much time iterating on just the core central thing over and over, they eventually get to a place where actually it feels uneasy and it’s almost like they land there with the song. once the hook feels a little, I don’t know about this anymore. That’s done put it on the record.

Kyle: and they described their own music as music concrete. they take stuff with bad sound quality, or they recycle, like they go for a sound; that fails, but then they take whatever that thing is and then keep recycling it. Zack specifically said we build something around something that’s just fucked. Like you just shouldn’t use it, but there’s a majestic quality to that rawness. And extends into the visuals too. there’s so much lo-fi apparently they shoot a lot of the stuff on an iPhone, but something about again, everything on the internet is mediated. If there’s. Digital it’s distance, it’s ones and zeros.

It’s corruptible. it’s a process signal. And so there’s something literal and to be drawn from that. But they, take that and they like lean into, they put their shoulder into that whole idea just intentionally fuck stuff up. they kind of have like made trash art, their thing.

Cliff: So two specific examples of that on this record that I love because they kind of come from different aspects, but do the same thing, uh, first, uh, Fuck That is maybe my favorite song on this record. And that’s because it’s the least pop song. It’s so barely strung together, coherently. And yet to me it’s a real good example of a death grip song, because You feel like you’re losing the rhythm yet? There’s a sense of like, it’s really like staccato, it’s real beat heavy, and yet you feel like the beats kind of getting lost or fading out and MC ride kinda like uses that whole thing as a pallet. He’s kind of playing around with it, the whole song, whereas you take something, pretty different in my opinion, double helix. I have to say out loud, what I wrote down is like the best description of the song. you know, how gene from Bob’s burgers has the keyboard, where he keeps all the sound effects and like, occasionally. So this is like, Jean just took DMT and like really started putting this really crazy together. Hey guys, you like. no laugh more the next time you listened to it, because that’s exactly what it sounds like is like a super jacked up gene. Just like I have the nuts, this idea, and here’s cartoon MC ride, you know, ready to come in right beside me.

Kyle: Well honestly, the fact that you accidentally stumbled on the idea of DMT Bob’s burgers, Rick and Morty,

Cliff: No, it’s gotta be shorter. It’s gotta be song length, DMT. Doesn’t last for an entire 22 minute episode,

Kyle: Renegade angel is DMT Bob’s burgers where they’re, they’re dealing with family issues in that way. And he’s also a bird.

Cliff: So, but like that song in particular, just like sounds that way. Like, it sounds like somebody kind of like farcically putting sounds into a general palette and then two minutes later after it’s had this really like Casio sounding vocal track repeating in the background or whatever, two minutes in like the whole thing freaks out and falls apart. Then it comes back sorta, but it doesn’t, it like leaves out like key elements of the rhythm and the hook that was there beforehand. the whole song, like never quite catches up to itself. It feels like it’s a circle that doesn’t quite connect. to me, like both of those are perfect examples.

Like whether it’s kind of like the noisy soundscape without a lot of direct. Pop direction. Uh, we’re NC rides kind of over on top of it or double helix where like, what’s actually, the focus is the production, the sounds, the sampling and the way that they interact with one another, like both of those are not only very Deathgrip CC songs and ways of looking at art and music.

But the fact that they’re sitting so close together on the same album and demonstrate that collaboration that you’re talking about, where they’re, they are really truly working with one another to create this art project and they know how to dial each other up and back and change the way they sound and work.

if you can get past how antagonistic the music feels at times you get lots of discovery like that, because the music itself is amazing.

Kyle: once you’re in on it, it almost makes you walk a little taller. It’s struts. It’s so confident in itself and what it’s doing. the other thing I want to point out about double helix is that’s one of the better examples of, an opportunity to pay attention to Zack Hill.

Because there, there is some ostensibly Drummy moments on the record, but that’s one where he’s like playing a beat into a drumming machine Like he’s, he’s kind of programming it, you couldn’t program it like that with your fingers. Like there’s a complexity the, it’s almost like a Wilson Pickety type backbeat and double helix.

And that’s a moment that I would advise people to like really concentrate on the rhythm imagine yourself trying to construct it. It’s all feel. And it’s so weird in that way. I think the moment that I like even better than double helix rhythmically is lost boys. Where it’s like, it’s a beat that it’s like Zach Hill pulling himself back.

It’s like he’s attached to bungee cords and he keeps trying to get back to the drum kit and it like pulls in that way. And then on top of that flat Lander puts sounds like a field recording of a fax machine pitched way down to just, it’s strange. And again, here, here we are. However many minutes after we said we weren’t going to try to describe the literal texts of this music and we did, but there are so elemental, you do yourself a service to, if you can’t take in the whole picture all at once, if the light’s too bright focus on moments and then zoom back out, once you’ve picked a spot in the room uh, help you feel less high to let you know that you’ll be able to leave the party at some point.

Cliff: Okay. Did you read Tyler? The creator’s review of the money store?

Kyle: no I bet it’s but I bet it’s great.

Cliff: We definitely need to link that up, but so kind of, sort of relevant to that. Uh, he says death scripts is my meth and. Right which is a fun thing to pull out, but like, he goes on to tell a story about like how we discover death grips, you know, he heard Gizzy and like the, like the rest of us who discovered them early on.

Right. And then we all, like, we all either went no never again, or yes, show me everything. Right. And so, you know, so he kind of, he was actually a little bit reserved about guillotine and then started spinning up the money store. but he talked about when she, when he says they’re my meth, he says that because, and I think this is a good way to explore the record.

Like you just put this thing on and. Unexpectedly. It’s like a skate video record. Like you’re full of energy. It actually is nonstop. The pace of it is so well done. It really goes along with any like moderate to high energy activity you’re doing it’s perfect. Which is kind of a surprise. Right? You don’t necessarily, you don’t expect this to be like your workout record.


Kyle: all of a sudden I have lifted a van

Cliff: So, so that’s kind of why he calls them there, his meth, because he puts it on while he’s driving a car. And basically he ends up almost dying, killing him and a friend that. It was kind of a miracle that he didn’t accidentally end up dying because of how unexplainably fast he started going in this card just in his words, because he put on this record, it’s such a good, like organic, way of, of seeing how people really experienced this stuff. but coming all the way back around, like his favorite track is hustle bones, which is another great, hone in track because it’s both kind of glitchy and experimental, but the hook is so big. It’s so good. that it, I mean a good half of these songs. If you take out a couple of the samples, you could pass them along to like a pop superstar and they’d be hits

Kyle: and that,

Cliff: is one of them.

Kyle: by my account, they put out 11 videos in less than a year, between this and no love deep web and. Double helix has a video where they just set up a camera to face the backup camera and a car, he’s just rapping directly into the backup camera. And it says something like, uh, something about your safety, which is a great little touch, but hustle, Vons has the best one because they Mount a camera to the inside of a washing machine, or a dryer it swings in and out and it opens up on you’re inside of it, inside of the dryer.

And there’s just a bunch of weed, like a ton of weed. And, and, and then it starts spinning and it like plays with the angles around it. it’ll swing back in and out and it’ll swing out to MC ride again lit by red light, some kind of a deconstructed or parody, brag wrap type of thing. He’s got like a hat on and he’s drinking a beer and smoking a joint or a cigarette.

he’s like flexing for the camera. Books like directionally, like they just set the camera up, out from the dryer and swing back in and there’ll be cash spinning around in the dryer and it’ll swing back out to MC ride and swing back in, it’s like pill bottles and guns and jewelry and stuff.

and that’s just such a weird deconstruction like material culture. And, you know, I know they’re not, they probably just grabbed a bunch of shit. Cause again, pure it, but it just kind of works on every level. And there’s all this weird made for $20 with an iPhone type stuff the videos for the songs.

But actually made a playlist as I was preparing for this episode and we’re just like sit with the videos on a loop on my TV. And listen to the record read, and it gets to be really world-building after a minute, which you wouldn’t think you would just think these are cheap promotional vehicles, whatever it’s stupid, YouTube bullshit, filler content, but it really is reinforcing of the thing that they’re going for.

It doesn’t look like much because it’s so low brow seeming, but there’s such a precision to it. and skate video is a good analogy. They make the thing they’re doing look extremely easy, but I dare anyone to try to recreate it and arrive at anything like what they’ve done here.

Cliff: Two things. Clearly, first of all, clearly they are visual artists. And I think that they even say that at some point they described themselves as such,

Kyle: And Stephan MC ride in particular as a painter, he does these like insane monochrome paintings that I would love to have one in my house, but have a kid now and I I don’t want to terrify them. So I won’t

Cliff: Not yet. We’ll wait,

Kyle: not yet, but Lord knows. My kid will probably upon this episode and want wine.

Like give me the, give me the fucked up. John Wayne Gacy rap guy, a monochrome painting of the dead person in a coffin.

Cliff: dad, you’ll never believe what I ordered you for Christmas. I’m going to influence her kid so hard.

Kyle: Oh my God.

Cliff: so to your point, it will betray your experience to just think, Oh, they just know how to make content really quickly. And they figured out how to do it cheap.

no they are deceptively good at what they’re doing. And if you want to use, you know, 20, 20 marketing context and words and whatever, I mean, think about it this way. They produce music videos at least at one time interviews, internet memes, and entire marketing campaigns that go way more viral than anything else goes on the internet.

And they do it themselves from their own computers, just from like working with each other and figuring out how they’d like to Jack with everybody a little bit. And like they end up not only making, art. But they ended up making supposedly like the point of making content. Like this is to go viral, into create spread, and they can do it with extreme ease.

It’s unexplainable. And it’s very, it’s very upsetting for either of us who like, are at least touching the kind of like marketing and communicative arts of things. We want to understand it and get good at it and help people be better at it and not fill the world with terrible shit. And like, here are these three guys able to like, run the internet. At basically their commands, uh, whenever they’re ready. also great because like they don’t in the process, therefore like lose their self-awareness of their ability to do that. like one of the quotes you added to our outline here, I really loved just talking about that. I love when things start off with a caveat quote, not to sound too much like an elitist, uh, Which has always followed by.

Kyle: but actually

Cliff: but there are people who spread death grip means who don’t actually like the music and they hear the crazy intensity of the music and they see the crazy intensity of the death grips aesthetic. And they think it’s a joke because they don’t know how else to deal with it Again, like it

Kyle: are we talking about death grips or reality?

Cliff: it’s maddening their ability to create things starting, especially with this kind of like ex-military money store, no love deep web run. I mean, they really cemented themselves as being able to quickly crank out practically anything. They want to create a fandom of people who not only either love their music and want to learn so much more about it, but also They have actualized on the ability to themselves have become a meme. That sentence was crazy, but like, it’s really hard to deal with time when you’re talking about these guys. Like they’re aware that they mean themselves. They’re aware that the meme of themselves that exists doesn’t necessarily represent reality and they’re perfectly fine.

Maintaining both personas at once.

Kyle: so let’s ride that spiral all the way out. had and deleted and then got a new Twitter. And somebody tweeted death grips is online, like toss off tweet in response to that. They retweeted it. then everyone who in response saw that one person actually got a response or an engagement of some kind from the mythical, reclusive death grips, anyone who posted any kind of death grips is on.

Like, if the text said death reps is online, they retweeted it to the tune of hundreds or thousands. they got increasingly weirder, obviously the upsmanship of the internet and especially the toxic young male internet. to the point that grips is online, became the title of a song.

Later that they made a video for that, that then got recycled into a meme. So when we talk about that crazy MFA, open sourcing type of shit, the thing became sentient. Like they became their own kind of real artificial intelligence and then, or indicators that they were really aware, to some degree that was part of the shtick or the performance all along was an interview where they talked about sending 10 versions of death grips out on tour.

where it was just like carriers of the music detaching their physical body is from the idea of what does it mean to have a death grips community experience. And so in 2015, touring on their album, the powers that be, they had a show in Chicago, where their tour manager came out, set up a laptop, a child’s drum set.

And is, we can only imagine or hope a fabricated suicide note, like a g-mail screenshot from a crazy fan emailing death grips, a suicide note. was not a projection, was not a screen. They printed a gigantic banner of it. And then. Tory manager press play on the new record. And that was it.

That was the show and, told the venue in Chicago that was the show. That was the point in some weird Andy Kaufman type shit. And then in another iterative moment, music that was playing before house music on the PAs recorded by death, grips themselves and played. and it was ultimately released in 2019 as Gmail.

And the restraining order is, and that’s the most recent output from this band. it’s half an hour of we’ve talked about the music death grips being intense. It is straight up brutal, Charles Mingus machine gun free jazz. It’s like they threw themselves into. We gave a bot, a thousand hours of death grips and it wound up making a Sonic military weapon. that’s, that’s kind of what it feels like. So here we

Cliff: been smoking joints at the dispensary, but they just sold me this thing called chatter.

Kyle: and now I’m dead now. now my brain STEM has effectively cut itself off from the rest of my body. so the, the point that I arrived at when I went past 2012, was that, it’s an aura Boris. And in the 20, 20, 21 moment, we’re all in that death grips like mankind, appears destined to eat itself.

If it hasn’t already it’s such an extreme and committed art project, they’re gazing long into the abyss and the abyss is gazing. Back into us, them, whatever There are there a fun house mirror of sorts. and there so much 2012 death grips. That was precious. We just read just, just recently about, um, how police drones in Los Angeles are becoming sentient and a guardian article, the eerie AI world of deep fake music.

It’s the screams of the damned. So the tail is starting to eat itself, right? Like this phenomenology of internet culture  in its current form, less than 20 years old, right? Like the acceleration capital a started to happen about 10 years ago. And. I don’t know that there’s a lesson to be learned from death grips or from any of the shit that we’re collectively experiencing.

And as we hurdle toward the singularity, I think fighting to exist  enough. when the world’s a big question, Mark, answer is pure ed, right? Let’s just like here’s pure primal physical release. If you don’t know what to think about it feel it

 Cliff: The thing that most encapsulates my experience of death grips and especially the money store, but really any of these records when I’ll, when I’ll go full headphones on a death grips record, which is rare enough. Cause it’s, it’s tough. Right. Um, but the thing that kind of came back to my mind is something that first appeared to me in like, you’ll see why in a minute, but you know, my late teens and early twenties.

Uh, as I started reading a lot of books, like the doors of perception and heaven and hell. but when I’ll just Huxley is trying to describe, you know, one of his Mescalin experiences, he says my actual experience had been, was still of an indefinite duration or alternatively of a perpetual present made up of one continually changing apocalypse.

And like that idea of like so much is happening all at once more is happening than ever. Everything is louder than it’s ever been. And yet there’s no terminal velocity insight. There’s no end to it. It’s not really even going anywhere. The internet is just growing. In place. We don’t know how big it can get or what it will look like or how it will shift.

You know, we know that it’s not some, you know, 2001, a space Odyssey version of, robots become smarter than us and kind of take over outer space or whatever. we’ve kind of eliminated those possibilities, I guess, but like, Even those articles, you were just mentioning that in 2012, we were just starting to break loose on the like autonomous vehicles, autonomous war machines, autonomous art, and now we’re in a place where everything can be deep fate, where autonomous cars are having to pull their cars back off the road. Cause they’re killing people, right? Like, and yet, where are we going? We’ve learned so much more, but actually is it changing? We’re still at war with everybody all the time.

No matter how many complaints there are about how much music and art were piling up on the internet. No one’s going to stop cause they still need to make it Just that sense of like a continually changing apocalypse instead of it, having anything to do with a duration of time or a directionality to me is like, if I want to be genuine about it is kind of the best way to describe this music and how I feel like we might connect with it.

it’s such a unique perspective and experience, in contrast to the, to all the other music and art that we have available.

Kyle: I’m on track to the movie version of the real world where an hour, and you realize, Oh shit, it’s not going to have a happy ending. it’s never going to end. me think of one of my favorite movies, Michael Haneke’s Funny Games. If you haven’t seen it, this is the end of the episode, so sorry if I’m spoiling another thing. Anyway, you made it this deep into the episode. So fuck you. The two main characters, the young men who have infiltrated, controlled deck to this family and kill them, there’s no redeeming happy ending for this family in this place. That’s kind of like the Hamptons dumps the body of the last member of the family and the Lake and boats over to this next family says that he’s there to borrow some eggs on behalf of the family that he just killed and looks directly into the camera at the end. And that’s the last shot implying that the violence and chaos will never end. It will always expand. And that’s easily, the most nihilistic we’ve ever gotten on this podcast. I’m congratulations. now know the most closely what it’s like to actually talk to us in real life in person at our shared breakfast. There’s a lot of joyful music out there in the world and content and media and ways to shield yourself the brutality of it all. but this is a good way to ground yourself in again, what it means to be alive right now without having to look away. So put it on super loud maybe don’t drive so fast that you kill somebody else, but definitely put it on super loud and destroy some shit.


We’ve curated an entire year’s worth of albums to spin, one for every single day.

If you’ve listened to TuneDig, you already know these 366 picks span history, genres, and cultures. Each day presents an album that’s fundamentally different than the one that came before it, and the one that comes after.

Original "Bitches Brew" Art

To celebrate the endless creativity of Bitches Brew—and especially its famous album artwork—TuneDig partnered with two incredible Atlanta-based artists to create one-of-a-kind, handpainted gatefolds.

With the spirit of the original art in mind, each artist brought their own vision to life. These pieces will spark conversation for any jazz fan.

Each piece includes a new vinyl copy of Bitches Brew. 100% of the purchase price goes directly to the artist, so take this opportunity to support the arts in the raddest possible way.

Seriously. There’s literally only one of each. Make it yours. 😎

TuneDig Episode 53: Ravi Shankar’s “Three Ragas”

Ravi Shankar lived one of the twentieth century’s most extraordinary lives, bearing witness to—and making—history all around the world. To many (especially in the West), he personified an extraordinarily complex style of music and the cultures from which it was borne, and he worked hard to make it look easy.

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TuneDig Episode 52: Alain Goraguer’s “La Planète Sauvage”

Gather ’round, sommeliers of the strange and crate-digging boogie children, for something “Strange! Frightening! Fascinating!” awaits. The soundtrack to Cannes 1973’s Jury Prize-winning film is a dazzling, surreal, avant-garde hymn to cosmic knowledge and compassion and a secret handshake among real heads. If you’re after a trip to a new dimension, here’s your one small step for man.

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TuneDig Episode 51: Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You”

Marvin Gaye’s well of soul power ran mighty deep, and deep into his career, he pulled up a bucket of ice-cold, silky smooth champagne called “I Want You.” Come for the lush instrumentation, vocal harmonies, and Leon Ware clinic; stay for the stories. For our return from hiatus, we observe a titan in his element, reflect on the pain that built him into one, and consider how to reconcile our feelings when complicated messengers deliver beauty to our door.

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TuneDig Episode 50: Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain”

Before uniting one nation under a groove, the lysergic lords of chaos in Funkadelic harnessed wild lightning into an amulet called Maggot Brain, bestowing the bearer with raw, dark power stronger than any force known to man. Between reaching our 50th episode and coping with the “maggots in the mind” of today’s universe, it felt like the right time to free our minds. We hope y’all’s asses will follow.

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TuneDig Episode 49: Alice Coltrane’s “Journey in Satchidananda”

The story of Alice Coltrane — an accomplished bebop pianist from Detroit who transcended into something far greater before walking away from public life altogether — is a glimpse into what it means to be truly free. Alice’s masterpiece "Journey in Satchidananda" is a cosmic dance that sparked creation from destruction. And in a time when we’re all desperately searching for a spark of meaning and hope, Journey abides abundantly.

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TuneDig Episode 48: Heart’s “Little Queen”

Take a moment to appreciate Ann and Nancy Wilson, who kicked down the doors of rock ‘n’ roll’s boys’ club with their peerless guitar work, soaring soul vocals, and tight songcraft. 1977’s Little Queen — an oft-overlooked gem in the classic rock canon — offers a snapshot of those elements at their most urgent and pure, powered by the Wilsons’ simple motivation (as described by their producer): “It was a war.”

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TuneDig Episode 47: Tangerine Dream’s “Phaedra”

When you think of “electronic music,” what comes to mind may not be a genre you deeply love — hip-hop, house, new wave, or even dub reggae — but all of it owes some debt, scientifically or otherwise, to Tangerine Dream. Dig in with us as we study a prime example of the band’s brand of effortful innovation, where they patiently and persistently labored at the cutting edge of electronic technology to open a portal to new worlds in our minds.

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TuneDig Episode 46: Olivia Rodrigo’s “SOUR”

Did you catch one of 2021’s biggest albums, or like us, did you almost overlook it? If you have any expectations of pop music, "SOUR" will likely subvert them. Teenage dream this is not; it’s an exquisitely universal portrait of a weird time to be alive.

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TuneDig Episode 45: Fela Kuti’s “Expensive Shit”

The story of Fela Kuti — one of the most famous people on an *entire continent* passionately struggling to liberate power to more people — is absolutely one worth deeply knowing, regardless of whether you find yourself drawn to Afrobeat or (cringe) “world music.” But once you know it, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with Fela and Afrika 70 as their revolutionary grooves rewire your brain in magical and meaningful ways.

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TuneDig Episode 44: Meshuggah’s “ObZen”

Meshuggah’s ObZen—an artifact of human creativity pushing the limits of what’s possible—will quite literally make you hear music differently. If you’re looking for a new musical adventure, and especially if you don’t think you like “heavy” or “weird” music, consider this your sign to push past your comfort zone.

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TuneDig Episode 43: mewithoutYou’s “Catch For Us the Foxes”

A misunderstood wise man once said “Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds.” In our most personal and vulnerable episode yet, we do some seeking through the lens of songs that fill us with the bravery and sincerity to love ourselves and others fully. Dig deep with us as we fish for words about our tiny place in the universe and dance with gratitude for our ability to do so.

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For lifelong headbangers and the musically curious alike, a new podcast from TuneDig is here to push your palette with aggressive, abrasive art. Each short, fast-paced episode offers (1) a new metal, punk, noise, or experimental release we recommend, (2) a related playlist we’ve curated, and (3) a heavy issue to consider and an organization doing something about it. Join us in the void.


TuneDig Episode 41: Miles Davis’s “Bitches Brew”

Let’s be clear: "Bitches Brew" is a challenging record, even to some of the best musicians in the world — but all of them say it’s worth the investment. It’s the kind of trip that, even if we *could* draw a map, it wouldn’t take you there. Let go of the need for meaning and enjoy the ride with us. We can promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised where you end up.

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TuneDig Episode 40: Fiona Apple’s “Tidal”

On the heels of one of 2020's most acclaimed albums — Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters — we revisited Apple’s debut Tidal and wound up working to extract ourselves from the mostly male gazes that made its reception … much different. We arrive at a question much like writer Jenn Pelly had: “People would constantly prod Fiona on how an 18-year-old could write songs as mature as these ... Why did they not ask instead how she became a genius?”

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TuneDig Episode 39: Death Grips’s “The Money Store”

The modern world is accelerating beyond our control, shaping our reality in ways we can’t yet perceive or understand. Enter Death Grips, an art project capturing the chaotic energy and illustrating the absurdity of our hubris in trying to harmonize the surreal and extremely real — never more perfectly than on 2012’s prescient "The Money Store".

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TuneDig Episode 38: Augustus Pablo’s “King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown”

Reggae music is easy to take for granted, but its impact is underappreciated and massive — in the case of dub in particular, everyone from Radiohead to Johnny Rotten to Run-DMC owes it a debt. Augustus Pablo and King Tubby together created what’s regarded as “one of the finest examples of dub ever recorded.” Join us as we dive into the culture, history, and unique engineering experiments that made it possible.

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TuneDig Episode 37: Rihanna’s “ANTI”

By every measure — sales, awards, chart-toppers, global name recognition — Rihanna is objectively as big as the Beatles ever were. In fact, ANTI is so big it’s still on the charts, a record five full years later. Take a closer look with us at “the record you make when you don’t need to sell records”, and get a taste of the true freedom that comes from focusing on your inner voice when faced with insurmountable expectations.

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TuneDig Episode 36: Son House’s “Father of Folk Blues”

All American music traces back to the blues, and deep at the root sits Son House. That the recordings on "Father of Folk Blues" even exist is something of a gray area that cuts to the heart of the great American myth, but wherever you land after hearing these stories, you’ll find that what matters most is what the great Muddy Waters once said of House: “That man was the king.”

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TuneDig Episode 35: Melvins’s “Stoner Witch”

The futility of describing the Melvins has stretched critics in the direction of absurd words like “Dadaist” for nearly 40 years now. They’ve belligerently flogged any attempt to pinpoint their essence simply by being themselves, but "Stoner Witch" remains a reliable mall directory for the Melvins’ vast and wild discography. Grab yourself some pretzel bites.

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TuneDig Episode 34: Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”

We should talk about Dolly the way we talk about Prince. Her extraordinary kindness and unique kitsch both make her universally loved, but what gets left out of the conversation is the very thing that made her famous: the music. Join in as we focus attention on the sonics and songwriting of the low-key masterpiece "Jolene".

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Kyle and Cliff

BONUS TRACK: How We Got Here

We got a bunch of interesting listener feedback in our off-season, and it encouraged us to shed some light on why we do things the way we do ‘em. Also, we reflect on our first writeup, which was ... interesting.

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We're Cliff (right) and Kyle (left). We’re two dudes born and raised in ATL with day jobs in tech and sustainability, respectively.

We met in middle school, and in one way or another, music’s been the thing that’s kept us close for the two decades since — whether it’s sharing and talking about new music (like this podcast, except in our texts or over beers), going to shows, or working with our favorite record stores to help them survive and thrive.

We started TuneDig as a little art project that connects us more deeply ourselves and to the world through the infinite gift of music. We hope you’ll join us for the conversations, let us know what you think, and share discoveries of your own.

More About TuneDig

TuneDig began as a little something called MusicGrid.me, which we created after realizing there was no place online to directly exchange music recommendations with your friends. Our aim was simple: to make rating albums simple, useful, and social. We got some love from places like MashableWiredEvolver.fm, and Hypebot. We managed to foster conversation between music lovers, get thousands of reviews, and meet great people.

Along the way, we realized that record stores were an essential part of the music lovers’ community. After many a conversation about how we could helpfully connect them to the people who loved them, we began helping them leverage technology to create new revenue streams and embrace streaming services without giving up what’s unique to them: expertise and curation. (Long live the counter clerk who knows exactly which record will be the right introduction to jazz fusion!)

TuneDig is our vision to connect music lovers with the music they love, because no matter how much has changed in the way we discover and enjoy music, recommendations from people you trust and respect will always be the best way to find new music you’ll dig. With this podcast, we’re channeling the spirit of trusted curation pioneered by record stores, and bringing you something to take you deeper into music you can love.