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Interview: Adrian Younge Brings ‘Black Dynamite,’ ‘Venice Dawn’ to Pagoda

In Clubs, Music
Adrian Younge (third from left) brings 'Venice Dawn' to the Pagoda.

Adrian Younge (third from left) brings 'Venice Dawn' to the Pagoda.

Adrian Younge loves movie music. He collects soundtracks, especially those from the late 60s and early 70s. So it makes sense that the Wax-Poetics-signed Younge is best known as a musician for his work on movies, namely as composer on the 2009 cult favorite Black Dynamite, which lovingly (and hilariously) satirized just about every cliché in the Blaxploitation playbook.

But a decade before that, Younge had a revolutionary idea. At the time a hip-hop producer fed up with the limits of sampling and just beginning to explore live instruments, he let his love of Ennio Morricone and other film composers guide him in creating the soundtrack for a movie that never existed, Venice Dawn. Last year, he re-visited the project, pushing its psychedelic, ambient sound to more soulful and cinematic heights with the album Something About April, which he fittingly released under the moniker Venice Dawn.

When Younge performs at the Pagoda Lounge on Saturday (March 31), he’ll divide his set up into different “acts” and play music from both Black Dynamite and Something About April. He spoke about his experience with both in a phone interview.

STEVE PALOPOLI: There are so many great touches in the music to ‘Black Dynamite,’ especially the songs like “Jimmy’s Apartment” that tell the story in this very funny, overly obvious way. Some Blaxploitation films actually did that, where the lyrics replaced the character’s internal dialogue. How did that idea come about for the soundtrack?

ADRIAN YOUNGE: Everybody studied the hell out of these films. It was our job to make it exactly like they would have done. I can’t remember if it was Mike’s [Michael Jai White, who conceived, co-wrote and starred in the film as Black Dynamite] idea or Scott’s [Scott Sanders, director] idea. I’m going to say it was Mike’s idea. He showed me a lot of music, from Three the Hard Way and The Mack, and the lyrics would talk about what happened before it even happens in the film. We wanted to make sure we had that in this film. For example, the theme song at the beginning, it cuts off but that tells the full story. You hear it on the soundtrack and it’s the full story.

As a big Rudy Ray Moore fan, I liked the Dolemite references, too. Since Moore’s music was so key to his movies, were you thinking a lot about him while doing the Black Dynamite music?

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