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Scott Weiser and Todd Walker never agree about what to call their music. But the Jackal & Hydeduo from Palm Beach Gardens is certain of what it is not. Their Sunshine State of mind is just a geographical happenstance, not a musical one. Try to peg their sound as Florida-style electronica and Weiser pounces. "We do not make any type of cheesy Florida breaks," he insists. "We just happen to live here."
Along with a handful of Florida experimental electronic outfits like Rabbit in the Moon, Phoenecia, and Exzact, Jackal & Hyde claims outsider status. "We could live in Antarctica and we would be making the same thing we're making," Weiser says.
Being labeled a Florida breaks group, he admits, can make it difficult to perform in certain parts of the United States. Weiser says in the beginning, it was difficult to get booked in New York City and Philadelphia because promoters lump together most Florida electronica acts. "We hate that stereotype because it sometimes comes to bite us in the ass," he explains. "They absolutely despise the Florida sound in the Northeast."
The Los Angeles native began playing the piano at age 7. He moved to synthesizers as a teenager, playing in industrial and new wave bands. In 1989, he relocated to Palm Beach Gardens to become the new programmer/ keyboardist partner in Dave Noller's Dynamix II, which already had a gold record. In 1998, Weiser started Jackal & Hyde with Walker as a way to put a harder spin on the electro sound. "I'm the maniac," Weiser quips. "He's the Slick Rick basshead." As he hides behind sunglasses, his girlfriend, Kara Wyatt, supplies him with names, spellings, dates, and other facts during the interview. Ask him to describe what Jackal & Hyde sounds like and he's on his own.
It's "a hard music that's still danceable, not just distorted mayhem," the electrocore pioneer says while toking on a cigarette. "And still has the ability to move people on the dance floor. It's definitely a difficult combo to achieve. It's hard to make really hard, aggressive music yet still have it be danceable and liked by the masses. And keeping it electronic."
The danceable electro beats tinged with dark industrial sounds make for listener appeal that goes beyond the clubbing crowd. "So we're keeping our techno crowd and we're gaining college radio fans at the same time," he explains. The balance between the two genres also plays off the duo's musical background -- Weiser's aggressive electro/industrial mainframe and Walker's Miami ghetto/bass effects -- with a signature funk element to boot.
"Some of the songs are compared to old Consolidated, but it's updated," Weiser says. "You're mixing bass, screaming, and distortion. In certain songs, you can take away the screaming, yelling, and distortion, and if you just let the beat alone, it would almost sound like a Miami booty song. That's the weirdness of our backgrounds coming together on Jackal & Hyde. It's like [Miami] bass meets industrial electrocore."
Last year, the group debuted the full-length The Badlands on the Tampa-based Hallucination label, which was co-founded by Rabbit and the Moon members Steve McClure, a.k.a. Monk, and David Christophere. Limp Bizkit frontman Fred Durst sought out Jackal & Hyde to remix "Rollin" and allowed Jackal & Hyde to include the track on The Badlands,which also features a remix of Kid Rock's "Pimp of the Nation."
"All the remixes that we've done, we were hired to do," Weiser says. "We don't just take somebody's song, rip it off, and do a remix of it. We were actually hired by the label to do it. That's a good point that people might not understand about remixing. It was like a big collage of our works as opposed to actually really putting together an album. It was just a way for our fans that had owned all of our vinyl to get it on CD. We weren't really even going to do it. We were going to move directly to our big album. But we decided to release it a couple of years ago, just for our fans, in a limited amount."
Jackal & Hyde plans to release its sophomore effort, Hollywood Dreamer, in the next few months. Weiser jokes that it's not exactly American Idol, then adds that it's aggressive and over-the-top. Tampa-based fetish fave the Genitorturers and lead singer/dominatrix Gen appear on "Lecher Bitch" and "Deceiver." Weiser is currently coproducing the Genitorturers' new album.
Another project Weiser is working on is a new international electro collaborative called Cyberian Knights, which released This Is the Sound of Underground in April. The group includes several electro producers: Weiser, Walker, J-Break, Exzakt, Vol Soc, Ashrock, Phil Klein, and Ian B. They're attempting to release records at the rate of one every two months. And in the meantime, Jackal & Hyde is working on a way to crack open the pockets of resistance in the Northeast. Weiser suggests that the backlash may come from the use of samples.
"Taking other people's music," he explains, "that's what Florida is known for. Stealing everybody else's music and then putting it on their own beat, then trying to put it out. And the Northerners just don't like it. I don't share their hatred of any kind of music. It's just what happens."