It’s funny how when you do a bit of cleaning you come up with stuff you haven’t seen in years. Case in point: a burned, hand written recording of The Life of Clutchy Hopkins from my buddy Paul. He gave it to me years ago because it was “right up my alley” and added “the guy is some long lost instrumentalist who plays Psychedelic Funk music.” That was enough for me. It was all a mystery, no packaging, not much info, but sounded interesting. I took the music, listened to it, and over the years I have checked out some more of his music. I haven’t really thought too much about Clutchy until this morning, when I found the recording. Exactly who is Clutchy Hopkins? I sought out to find out this answer on this rainy Friday.
There has been much speculation on who exactly is behind this genius project in the 7 years or so since this musician and his “recordings” have surfaced. Hyped up by fan websites, a wild biography out of a movie, and an interview in Wax Poetics merely added to the puzzle wrapped in an enigma. The sound was unique. Psychedelic Jazz Folk with eerie synths, stringed instruments, flutes, and well thought out drums (or drum programming). Is it some bedroom producer, who wanted to keep anonymous for all of this time, almost a decade? Or could it be the alter ego of one or more of today’s best beat makers and artists?
Here’s the opinion of Flea Market Funk:
Since the man was purportedly from California, DJ Shadow instantly came to mind. That was quickly denied initially in the press, but is always still a possibility. The Beastie Boys are known for their hijinx, plus Mike D spends a lot of time in LA, so could it be? Sounds good, but unlikely. There was major talk that it was Lucas McFadden aka Cut Chemist. This theory made more sense than any other. Some internet sleuths years ago traced footprints from a post on a forum about Hopkins to Warner Brothers, the label Cut Chemist is on. If you haven’t heard his American Pie Psych Folk mix with Hymnal, I think that this is further proof that he may have had his hands in this cookie jar so to speak. Another player that comes to mind is Money Mark. His distinct, odd, keyboard sound is present throughout a lot of the recordings, so could it be possible that he had a hand in this too? Also, we can’t rule out Cut Chemist’s J5 cohort DJ Nu-Mark aka Uncle Nu. Some of these beats have his signature sound on them as well. It is all possible. Clutchy has done some unique collaborations as well: MF DOOM, Dorando, and Shawn Lee. Here’s an account of Lee meeting Hopkins.
All of these artists are West Coast based, and in the same circle as at least Cut Chemist. Disinformation planted, stories told, visits to the Mojave Desert, and writers fainting and being nursed back to health by Hopkins himself all added to the confusion and mystery of this now colorful character. There are some facts though. Records were released on Ubiquity out of San Francisco and coincidentally Shawn Lee is on that label. Perhaps it’s Shawn Lee, or maybe a giant collaboration between several of these musicians? An alias listed for Hopkins is Eugene Harrington. Harrington released an LP on NOECHO in 2010, that sounds very similar to the Hopkins records. He also appears as the alias Logan Valencia, this time playing engineer on The Misled Children Meet Odean Pope record. More mystery that has built the legend of Clutchy Hopkins up even bigger.
Clutchy Hopkins featuring Darando – The Love of A Woman
We don’t know much, as the propaganda and facts get all tangled up into one, it gets even more difficult. What we do know though, is that this music is really good. File it under down tempo Hip Hop, Electronic, Instrumental, Psychedelic Funk or just plain out there. Call it Jazz, call it avant garde, call it weird, but any way you look at it, it’s very unique. The people behind it have made everyone believe this guy existed like Keyser Söze. Except when Verbal limps to a walk, he wasn’t carrying a drum machine or melodica. A tale spun for close to a decade of this genius musician and his special music that still hasn’t been figured out. FMF highly recommends all that this mysterious artist has put out. It’s widely still available and a great diamond in the rough for those who haven’t heard. We’re looking forward to the release of his biography and another Clutchy Hopkins record. The mystery is still out there……
Who Is Clutchy Hopkins?