Lee Bannon Remembers Being Roommates With Pro Era


[Editor’s note: In “Tweets Is Watching,” Phillip Mlynar asks local artists questions based solely on the contents of their Twitter timeline.]

Lee Bannon saw his hip-hop profile bloom after supplying beats to Flatbush rapper Joey Bada$$, not least with the slinky jazz-styled “Hilary $wank” on the Pro Era kid’s Summer Knights mixtape. For Bannon’s solo debut album, titled Alternate/Endings and released on Ninja Tune earlier this month, he takes things in an unabashed drum ‘n’ bass direction. Off the back of that release, here’s Bannon musing on who was behind the Daft Punk masks at the weekend’s Grammy awards, the idea of DJ Premier making jungle music, and doing the dishes with Chuck Strangers.

See also: Pro Era’s CJ Fly Isn’t Interested in a Gun-less Bruce Willis



Who would you like to think was behind the Daft Punk masks?
I mean, they’re older now so maybe it was just like a couple of models they put in there! Or it could have been Will Smith behind the mask.

What did you think of the Grammys?
I was streaming like the first hour of it, watching it kinda like doing a million other things. Man, I don’t to come across like a hater or something like that, but I probably only knew about three songs on there all night!

If you won a Grammy, where would you keep it in your apartment?
I got a little Star Trek Enterprise Next Generation spaceship so I think it would go well next to that.

Are you a fan of Macklemore?
I don’t listen to enough of his music to decide, but from what I’ve heard I can’t say it’s my thing. But I recognize that he has some type of ability. If that many people are enjoying his music who am I to say it’s bad, you know?

If you found yourself in the studio with Macklemore, what direction would you want to go in?
Ha, if that ever happened it would be pretty weird. I’d probably take it as far left as I could, give him something that he’s never had a chance to do before.


You gave a shout-out to Chuck Strangers. Does that mean you two have a song or project coming out soon?
Nah, we used to be roommates for like a year last year so we’re just friends.

What was Chuck Strangers like as a roommate?
Pretty cool. Those days were just spent getting high and just making beats; it was pretty chill.

Any disputes about who did the dishes?
Basically, everything was just piled up and then every month or two months we would do one ultimate clean.

What sort of songs did you listen to while doing the ultimate apartment clean?
I know one time we put on a rough leak of the “Get Lucky” song before it was even called “Get Lucky” and there was no Pharrell on it and it was all distorted. For the most part, we’d listen to like Cam’ron when doing the cleaning.

Do you have any Pro Era productions coming up soon then?
I have some stuff on Joey’s upcoming album, I know that. As far as hip-hop goes, that’s about it, although I also have some songs coming up with the TDE rapper Isaiah Rashad. But, man, my energy has been going into my solo stuff at the moment; I’ve been focussing on trying to develop a masterpiece. Collaborations are much rarer at the moment — I’m trying to work on making music for myself.


The new album goes in a jungle direction. When did you first get into that sound?
I’ve always liked listening to certain jungle albums, but I think it was around when I was on tour in Europe in Rotterdam and I was watching some movie — it might have been like Trainspotting — and it brought back memories of riding the school bus and maybe listening to Nine Inch Nails and maybe a Venetian Snares record, just a random mix of music. It brought me back to that time and I decided to do an album in that style.

Is producing jungle more liberating than making hip-hop?
It definitely is. If you look at both cultures it’s the same elements, I just feel that it’s more of a challenge and it’s something that pushes my ability further than hip-hop does at the moment. It’s almost like when Michael Jordan went to play baseball: He sucked, but hopefully I don’t suck.

Which other hip-hop producer do you think would make a decent jungle song?
I think DJ Premier. If you think about it, he pretty much has, like if you listen to some of the songs off the Christina Aguilera album, if you speeded them up to like 170 beats-per-minute, they would be jungle songs. It’s the same as Flying Lotus — if you changed one instrument in his songs into a snare track then you’d have a drum ‘n’ bass song.

Finally, who’s the teddy bear on Instagram with duct tape over its mouth?
I was in L.A. recently playing the Low End Theory there and I was with a friend working on some music and there was a bear there taped up from some project she was working on in the woods or something! I’m not sure if the bear even has a name — it just kinda fit the ambience of the background.

Any chance of the bear starring in one of your future album covers?
Yeah, maybe on like an inside fold or something, that could work.

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