Sweet Valley’s new album Eternal Champ will surprise you. It surprised me. After discovering they were touring alongside Killer Mike and GZA–I had to listen? Who would have though that Nathan Williams, known primarily for his work as Wavves, could create such a ridiculously good beat tape. A taste of Eternal Champ yields a dash Madlib’s herbacious, a hearty beat of RZA’s Shaolin kick and delectably bizarre sampling that would make MF Doom say, “Lay off my weed!”
The story behind the brotherly collaboration should bring a smile of familiarity to any reader with younger siblings:
It happened like this: Nathan, having done well for himself with a thing called Wavves, bought himself a house in Los Angeles. Kynan, five years the younger, was still living at home, making strange electronic pop under their parents’ roof in San Diego. Nathan offered Kynan a room for free, on one condition: that they start a group called Sweet Valley and see what that sounds like (this deal partly motivated by a fear that younger brother, unless distracted, would smoke all of older brother’s weed). In the first two weeks of their new arrangement, the pair produced the nine songs that make up their debut beat tape, Stay Calm…
Bonding over a mutual love for the left-field loops and blunted grooves of DJ Shadow, Dipset, J Dilla and DJ Screw, the Williamses worked out a rhythm. In the morning, they dig through their vinyl in search of samples. They cut ‘em to fit, arrange via MPC and Abelton Live, and then play whatever’s needed-keys, bass, guitar, glockenspiel, Theremin. They don’t write out melodies. They don’t do a buncha takes. They break to play videogames (12 systems’ worth, with close to 200 NES games alone), whose lo-bit FX then become the source material for more music still. After six months, they’d made five albums.