By Erin Wolf, Special to OnMilwaukee   Published Mar 17, 2016 at 2:06 PM

The Sounds Of Time expertly create hip, retro-laden hip-hop gems, filled with a bit of disco, soul and lots of references to everyday life in their hometown of Milwaukee. They utilize the golden sounds of the golden era of hip hop (as well as funk and soul) to fuel their own creative output. Fronted by rapper Kid Millions (John Kuester) and flanked by multi-instrumentalist and producer Sage Schwarm, the duo honorably does not use any outside samples, instead choosing to create their own samples with organic instrumentation (guitar, synths, bass, etc.).

One of their first collaborations was before they officially teamed up (for Kid Millions’ 2009 release, "Recession Proof Rap," which Schwarm produced). Soon after, the The Sounds Of Time was formed, their likemindedness and differences both coming together to fuse their unique sound.

"When I opened up a record store in 2000, I really got into the funk and the hip hop" says Kuester. Schwarm adds, "My last band before I was working with John was called Codebreaker, and it was an all-synth band ... techno, disco, etc. and that just kind of stuck."

Kuester dug even deeper, explaining, "We first worked together around 2006 – he produced a track that we worked on when I first started recording. We were friends way before that ... I’ve known him since ’97-ish [when he was in The Thousandaires)."

On Tuesday, March 8, The Sounds Of Time played on WMSE’s Local/Live. The duo has three recent singles out – "Three Sheets," "In a Graveyard" and a Cars cover, "Just What I Needed" – and plan on releasing a couple more singles soon with an official full-length, single by single, out by year’s end. The Sounds Of Time will also be playing several shows coming up, including playing the 25th anniversary "silver celebration" show for the Little Blue Crunchy Things at Shank Hall on Saturday, April 30 and the Brady Street Festival this summer.

The Sounds Of Time played two live sets on Local/Live, featuring those new singles and premiering a few brand new tracks too: "Wake Up," "Extreme Takeover" and "Stick Around." In between those sets, we chatting about their beginnings, the upcoming "bread crumb" trail release of their singles to form a full-length and their influences – including The Pharcyde, which they chose to feature at the end of Local/Live for the "This Is Your Song" segment. For "This Is Your Song," the guest chooses one musician or group (and one song) that has influenced their own music.

The Sounds Of Time chose to play "Passin’ Me By" by The Pharcyde from their 1992 album, "Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde." Catch the full segment in the WMSE archives, and below, get Kuester’s take on why The Pharcyde especially influences The Sounds Of Time.

The lowdown

  • Musician/Band: The Sounds of Time

  • WMSE’s Local/Live Date: Tuesday, March 8, 2016

  • "This Is Your Song" pick: "Passin’ Me By" by the Pharcyde (from the album "Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde," released in 1992 on Delicious Vinyl Records)

  • Interviewed: John Kuester, aka "Kid Millions" (lead vocalist / rapper)

What/when is your first memory of hearing this particular song?

My first memory of hearing "Passin’ Me By," by The Pharcyde was at an eighth grade dance back in 1993, and I remember being excited to hear such a unique sound. The song had a wicked Jimi Hendrix sample, vivid storytelling and quality rap mixed with singing. This was definitely one of the first songs to open my eyes and ears to hip hop.

Was it the first song you listened to from this musician or group?

This one – "Passin’ Me By."

In what specific way does this song or artist influence your own music?

I would say The Pharcyde influenced me to create my own style and to freely explore other genres of music ...

If you could ask this artist only one question, what would it be?

I would ask them to record an entire album with Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest!

Have you ever seen a live show and did it meet your expectations?

Yes! I saw them perform live at the Rave Bar in 1997-98 with The Rusty Pelicans, and the show was up close, intimate ... very high energy! They also invited (Milwaukee hip hop group) The Rusty Pelicans to join them on tour after that gig; that's another reason to like The Pharcyde!  

Local/Live on WMSE airs every Tuesday on WMSE from 6 to 7 p.m. Listen live, in the archives at or simply tune your radio (in the Milwaukee area) to 91.7 FM at the 6 o’clock hour.