October 1, 2011 by Kellie Gannon
Smoke Screen is made up of two parts hip hop duo Chemist & Mooke, & one part Urbindex. Chemist (Tommy Sheridan), & Mooke (Rodney Mynatt) have been friends & fans of all types of music since the early 2000’s. Urbindex (Connor Musarra) has been the official Smoke Screen DJ for the better part of 2011, but is an artist, producer, & DJ in his own right, currently attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Smoke Screen’s first official show was at Allstars, a venue in Buckley, MI. A few months prior they had performed as part of a group called Tha Slick, at Peabody’s in Cleveland, OH. The difference between the early shows & playing venues like The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame & House of Blues now is, “let’s just say there was no green room!”
The message behind Smoke Screen is about “really just having a good time, we have music for all occasions, but the general “theme” is just don’t sell yourself short & make sure you get what you want out of life,” states Chemist. The influences behind Smoke Screen include Outkast, Redman & Method Man, RUN DMC, etc. Chemist draws his inspiration from anyone & everyone, including Incubus to Roy Ayers, & Mooke is typically found listening to Missy Elliott, Toro Y Moi, & everything in between. “We are very diverse, we listen to all different types of things so as artists it reflects that, we have certain songs for certain moods, we are not one dimensional.” They’ve had the opportunity to play shows with Kid Cudi, Das Racist, People Under the Stairs, Mac Miller, Evidence, Big Sean, & most recently opened at the House of Blues in Cleveland for Black Star (Mos Def & Talib Kweli). This past May they also did an Eastcoast/Midwest Tour with Urbindex, playing venues in Pittsburgh, Brooklyn, New York City, Philadelphia, Columbus, and their hometown of Cleveland. In the future, Smoke Screen says they would like to have the opportunity to collaborate with Diplo, Madlib, Neon Indian, Pharrell Williams, & Outkast.
Being from Cleveland plays a role in Smoke Screen. “Cleveland is a great city. We both love being from Cleveland & in our early music we wore it on our sleeves, referencing Cleveland in almost everything we did. The scene here is fairly creative & it seems like some light may finally begin to shine on the city.” Smoke Screen is continuing to evolve. They are in the process of dropping two new music videos (one below this interview!) & they are playing at Bside Liquor Lounge (Coventry Rd., Cleveland Heights, OH) for the Bside “8th Anniversary Party” October 7, 2011. They also recently released Re-Imagined, a remixed version of their 2010 project, Imagination Beyond Illustration. Other projects are in the works, but “not out of the oven yet!”
Last words from Smoke Screen, “If you wanna be bout that life, you gotta be bout that life. Large. French Connection.”
Watch their new video below & check them out on Facebook!!
Be sure to check out the full set of photos from Smoke Screen @ House of Blues Cleveland 9/22/2011!!