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HEIGHTS NS: STUDIO WIZARD PUSHING HIP-HOP'S BOUNDARIES

Heights NS is the musical moniker of Tampa multi-instrumentalist and all-around studio wizard Philip Carre, whose interesting (and intelligent) approach to composing music is to take elements of different genres and create hybrids, resulting in something new and unique. Heights NS does so by blurring the lines of conventional popular music with cross-pollination of musical genres.

His unconventional approach results in a gumbo of highly melodic vocals and raps, uptempo beats, Curtis Mayfield-esque guitar leads and atmospheric soundscapes (think TV On The Radio) - ingredients that all lend to a unique listening experience.

His early musical interests were piqued by an older brother's playlist: N.W.A., Bone Thugs-N-Harmony and similar artists of the era.

"He was a pretty decent musician," Carre said. "He used to play keyboards, so he used to introduce me to shit, like a lot of rap music. And around my school, a lot of people listened to everything like alternative rock and stuff like that. Then N.E.R.D., Pharrell's group, I remember I listened to it, and it just blew my mind. For some reason, that record just hit with me."

At the time an aspiring DJ, Carre had turntables, and one of his cousins bought him a stack of records produced by the Neptunes, Pharrell Williams' production team. The N.E.R.D. album "made me pick stuff up, and start recording and playing different instruments," he said.

"I started with keyboards, 'cause I wanted to make beats, and that's the key: have a keyboard, MIDI and a computer," he said. "With the keyboards, I used to just play one-note stuff, but I found these chords - you hit three notes at the same time, if they all mix, it makes a beautiful sound."

After learning that Williams played drums, Carre picked up some drumsticks, and later, he added guitar to his repertoire. His self-penned instrumentation is what sets Carre apart from most hip-hop acts. He spends a majority of his time in his home studio honing his craft, tweaking sounds and modifying and manipulating drum timbres. On his website, he describes his music as "genre-less."

Carre cites the Roots as an inspiration. "They're recreating it instead of just sampling it," he said. "I found that when you pick up certain instruments, you (would) look up, 'Who's the king of this instrument?' You start playing guitar and digging, and finding different people."

"That was the basis: Wow! You can rap on this! Radiohead's The National Anthem: Wow! You can rap on that. If you listen to the beat, that would be a cool rap beat."

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Heights NS

Real name: Phillip Carre

Recommended if you like: N.E.R.D., Outkast, TV On The Radio

Website: heightsns.com

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