Words by Sean Moeller, Illustration by Johnnie Cluney, Recording engineered by Patrick Stolley
We think that Ryan Olson is kind of a freak and he probably likes it that way. He hangs out with other like-minded freaks, way up north in Minneapolis, where the big snows turn into dirty snows and folks keep themselves inside for months at a time, just to wait out the crippling coldness. The hibernation period of the winter months must be the catalyst for people like Olson staying indoors with every record and every book they can get their hands on and find refuge in their own personal mash-ups, finding ways to either fill the time with something or discover new and more creative ways to rub two people together to keep warm. It could be the latter idea that Olson subscribes to most closely. As one of the chief originators of the equally odd collection of soft-rock-ballad-loving buddies GAYNGS, Olson goes a different route in a similar quest to get people touching other people with his other project, Marijuana Deathsquads. Again, it's another cast of super friends, with a revolving door/whomever's-in-town-that-night mentality, but the music goes down that jagged and manic road of someone with a short attention span, but a very focused adherence to a dedicated and relentless groove, one that will take you through some seedy back rooms, over some sticky floors and into some open, black-lit party rooms where everyone's motions are clicking on and off in different warped speeds.
With Marijuana Deathsquads, Olson and frequent collaborators such as Doomtree's Mike Mictlan, Rhymesayers' P.O.S. and Har Mar Superstar make you feel as if you've just been bit by a psychedelic rattlesnake and you're quickly losing your mind as the white venom courses through your veins. You can just shut your eyes and feel the dizziness take over, move you around the floor, twist you over the cushions or into the thin sheets of a bed. You feel as if you could be arrested for just being where you are right now, as if you've done something immoral that you don't even remember, as if the fog's either just wearing off or it's just setting in. We're on the borderline of cognition and full-blown fuzziness. They recreate the sensations of free-fall and in coming upon a bed full of tarantulas when you'd have been scared out of your skin just seeing one of them. It's a longer route to getting intimate with someone else (compared with the sax and vocoder-harmony-rocking style of GAYNGS), but Marijuana Deathsquads still leave the possibilities out there for you to do what you will with them. The frightening segments are interspersed with celebratory dancehall beats and you can almost see Olson hopping around behind his laptop, his mouth blowing up with ecstasy, stoned out of his mind, with the biggest smile you've ever seen ladling the bottom half of his face. You join in the look and go where the Deathsquads take you.