N.A.S.A., and their worldwide debut The Spirit of Apollo, is an ongoing creative collaboration between two lifelong music aficionados, Squeak E. Clean and DJ Zegon, and their friends, friends of friends and musical heroes. While N.A.S.A. stands for North America/South America and contains a number of superstar artists from both coasts of the U.S., it is about as far from a tension-building geographical showdown as a record can get. Rather, The Spirit of Apollo was born with the righteous goal of bringing people together through music and art, and that is exactly what masterminds Sam Spiegel (Squeak E. Clean) and Ze Gonzales (DJ Zegon) have done.
Unexpected collaborations abound on the seventeen track release. Tom Waits growls over Kool Keith, Karen O taunts while Ol' Dirty Bastard gives shoutouts to Wu Tang and N.A.S.A from the grave, and David Byrne, Chuck D and others expound on the evils of "Money." In spite of the range of performers, the pairings seem organic, inspired and make perfect sense on the first listen, never coming off as ironic or impulsive. N.A.S.A. landed at Anti Records, a label that is home to other likeminded visionaries such as Zack de la Rocha, Nick Cave and N.A.S.A.-guest vocalist Tom Waits. Characteristically, N.A.S.A. is more than just a record.
The N.A.S.A. project is permeated by Brazilian funk, which provides the roots of the songs and binds them together into a cohesive whole, but from there, the imagination behind The Spirit of Apollo ranges far and wide. "Whachadoin?" featuring M.I.A, Santogold, the electro-rap ingenuity of Spank Rock and Nick Zinner from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs is spontaneous and playful, and is perhaps the first song to get funky with a dial tone. "The Mayor," featuring Ghostface Killah, Scarface, indie-darlings the Cool Kids and Hollywood scene-maker DJ AM has a laidback Superfly vibe, while "Electric Flowers," with Cardigans singer Nina Persson and Wu Tang Clan's RZA, has a downbeat chilled-out feel. "Strange Enough" pairs Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs with Fatlip and Ol' Dirty Bastard, on the last song ODB recorded before his untimely death in 2004. On "N.A.S.A. Music" Method Man gives a shout out to Spiegel's recording studio, Crack Alley, while E40 chews on his vowels and together, the two wrap up The Spirit of Apollo into a single chorus: "from New York to the Bay yo / Sao Paulo to LA yo / nobody move until we say so / they wanna know who got that N.A.S.A. music."
Spiegel sees it as more of an extension of the rest of his life. "No rules. That's the M.O."
Sam Spiegel is a composer, producer, DJ and remixer who launched his music career after heading west from his hometown of New York and began DJ'ing clubs and events around Los Angeles. Not long after, his annual signature party SUDs gathered celebrities and cool kids at unconventional venues in Los Angeles, including a laundromat and a car wash. While Spiegel has produced and remixed tracks for Maroon 5, Iggy Pop, Kylie Minogue, the Eels, Ben Lee, the Cardigans and many more, 2006 marked the first Squeak E. Clean fully-produced album. Show Your Bones, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs sophomore record, was named "Album of the Year" by the likes of Rolling Stone, NME, and Spin, and was nominated for a Grammy for best alternative album. A professional skateboarder who has evolved into one of the most sought after, cutting-edge DJs in South America, Ze Gonzales (aka DJ Zegon) has carved out his own musical niche that marries traditional Brazilian beats with underground hip hop, creating a sound and vibe that places Zegon in a class all his own.