by David Downs
Representatives of the Clutchy Hopkins project capitalized on critical international music buzz by providing an exclusive interview this week with the Express, stating that indie label offers are on the table, and two new albums' worth of previously recorded material are slated for release this year.
A label deal might not be right for the project, they say, though they definitely plan to release both: Clutchy Hopkins Meets Lord Kenjamin and Jeane Harrington & Dave Ersek featuring Clutchy Hopkins this year.
Representatives of the project met for a four-hour interview as part of a California business trip that included stops at key West Coast vinyl record stores like Amoeba Music, and Rasputin Music, as well as an appearance at the sold-out performance of the Roots at the Fillmore, where they handed out unreleased material to predetermined members of the audience.
The representatives of the project declined to identify themselves by name but allowed their descriptions to be public: two young males in their late twenties, one taller and more rotund, and one shorter, skinnier one. The taller one sported Ben Davis pants, a hoodie, cap, and long hair, while the other wore Lakers gear and Nikes. They smoked weed, drank alcohol, and popped pharmaceuticals for the entirety of their stay in the Bay Area, as the density, noise, and bustle of San Francisco agitated their quiescent desert sensibilities. Neither was a disguised DJ Shadow.
According to the official story: An unnamed number of discoverers located the recordings of one Clutchy Hopkins in the wilds of the Mojave Desert. The recordings included a rough biography about Hopkins, a multi-instrumental musical Gypsy who traveled the world investigating consciousness and its relation to music. The unverified biography states Hopkins studied with Zen monks, yoga masters, and Nigerian freedom fighters as well as 20th-century jazz, funk, and avant musicians. Attempts by the unnamed agents to contact him failed, as he is thought to have returned to the Mojave to finish out his life living in an underground cave.
At this time, the project's representatives have no comment as to how his work ended up in the hands of its publishers, nor when the recordings were made, how they were made, what instruments were used, how many more exist, or why the world hadn't heard of Clutchy before now.
They did say that The Life of Clutchy Hopkins has two sister projects available through underground channels, including the 2004 People's Market and the 2006 MF Doom Meets Clutchy Hopkins. The records were released quietly, but Turntable Labs in Los Angeles became an early supporter, selling copies from its store and online.
Turntable Labs led to a mention on the influential music insider Web site Idolator, and since then, "Shit's been insane," the taller rep said. "Orders have doubled, with most of the addresses going to major labels and music publications."
As-yet-to-be-named indie labels have offered to produce, distribute, and publicize future releases, but the representatives said the Clutchy Hopkins project members have concerns about such a route. The Life of Clutchy Hopkins is currently in 25 stores around the world and orders keep coming in. The project may not need a label, or may form its own.
In the interim, there appears to be two types of people: Those who don't know Clutchy's work, or those who love it. At the Roots' lead-off concert at the Fillmore February 7, select attendees received a free Clutchy promo with a smile and an immediate question. "Are you Clutchy?"
The tall one said, "No, but I work for him," and kept moving through the crowd. Numerous record stores including Amoeba and Rasputin turned down offers of Clutchy product, but B-Side Records gave it a spin and found an instant hit.
"We just brought it in and the guy took the vinyl out, put it on and started skipping around, trying to find something to hate," the tall rep said. "He couldn't find anything, so he bought ten. As we were leaving, he chased us down the sidewalk and asked to buy another ten. He said, 'All the employees and every customer in the store just bought one.' It was the quickest reorder so far."
Looking forward, Italian music magazine Superfly recently flew a reporter out to the Mojave to find and write a feature on the Clutchy Hopkins discoverers, expected to be out in April.
MP3: MF Doom Meets Clutchy Hopkins Track #2