By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published Nov 28, 2014 at 4:46 PM

Time stops for no one. The same could be said for the Milwaukee-centered hip-hop group The Sounds of Time, at least based on their work ethic.

The trio – comprising John Kuester (aka Kid Millions), local producer Sage Schwarm and DJ Deadbeat – began work on its sophomore album, fittingly titled "............Again," right when its first album together was released. The three are already several songs into their next record, too, or at least they've already gathered multiple ideas.

"That’s just the way it is for us," Schwarm said. "We could just keep on working until we had 20 songs done and then call it an album. We just kind of have to go, 'OK, this feels like a collection now. Let’s drop this one.'"

Saturday night, they'll do exactly that, taking a moment to celebrate their latest collection of '80s-fueled dance-happy hip-hop grooves at the Cactus Club, starting at 10 p.m. The record release show features performances by The Sounds of Time, J. Todd and AUTOMatic, and the first 50 people to arrive will also receive a free copy of the new album. Before the party starts, got a chance to chat with Kuester and Schwarm about the new album, their evolving brand of '80s hip-hop funk and the growing role of nostalgia in pop culture. Your sound is very old school ’80s hip-hop. What about that sound really catches you and intrigues you?

John Kuester: Well, I’ve been into it for a long time. I also sell records for a living; I had a record shop for about 10 years. I really started getting into a lot of late ’80s sound and the electro-boogie sounding stuff, and that’s kind of what got me into it, as far as the songwriting process goes. Sage, as well, has always been into that kind of sound, like the old roller skate jams and the boogie and the funk. So it was just kind of natural for us to come together on that style.

Sage Schwarm: That being said, this record references music all the way from the ’40s, the ’50s and all the way through brand new modern music. But there’s definitely an ’80s sort of hip-hop electro/boogie rooted throughout the whole thing.

JK: The album kind of starts off on a really old school vibe and kind of transitions into many different sounds.

OMC: The ’80s vibe definitely is the underlying key for the whole thing, but there seems to be a lot of other inspirations and tangents you go on in there. Were there particular inspirations for this album?

JK: Not really. We get together all the time on a weekly basis, and for us, it’s fun to dive into different styles just to keep our head in the game and to keep ourselves interested in what we’re doing. I’ll come in one day, and Sage will have something jotted down, like a guitar riff or something like that in different styles. We’ll just kind of agree, "Oh, let’s do a dub-reggae style beat today," and the next day, we’ll do something that’s, like, Latin-influenced.

OMC: Why do you think that kind of ’80s style of hip-hop faded out of vogue in pop culture?

SS: For me, it never really went out of vogue, but definitely there was that gangsta thing that swept through the hip-hop world in the early ’90s, and that took it off into a crazy direction. These days, who knows; I don’t even know where to start with production these days.

But we’re a hip-hop band, but we’re definitely more than just a hip-hop band. I feel like the production in our music refers more to pop. All the modern things these days are really using a lot of boogie and a lot of electro stuff that’s suddenly back in vogue. It’s interesting; in a way, we’re out of vogue, and in a way, we’re more in vogue than ever.

JK: It’s kind of a standard sound for us. Most people that listen to our music, if they were to pigeonhole us, they would say it’s got an old school boogie sound to it. Sage was also in that band Codebreaker, and they did a lot of dance music. So he was already doing music that was kind of in that same realm.

OMC: It seems like nowadays genres have melded together and smashed together. I mean, the term "alternative" doesn’t really make sense anymore; what is "alternative" music? How do you feel about how genre has transformed?

JK: I feel like music right now revolves around nostalgia and familiar sounds. In this digital age, where everything is very single-minded and people consume music so fast, a lot of ways to grab people’s attention is to bring up familiar sounds from the past. I’m not saying we necessarily do that, but like familiar samples and fashion and in general. Right now, it’s like the ’90s and ’80s is a really popular thing.

OMC: Totally. I mean look at Buzzfeed, where half of their content is nostalgia pieces about 40 things you’d remember from your ’90s childhood. Why do you think the culture has evolved in that direction?

JK: I think it’s the Internet and younger kids having access to so much music now. Before, you had to dig around in crates for vinyl records; it wasn’t that easy for a 12-year-old to learn about Big Daddy Kane. Now, you’re like a click away on the Internet. You can just go on YouTube, go into a little rabbit hole and learn so much within just three or four hours, just digging around on YouTube.

SS: Plus, it’s an instant attention getter. Again, I’m trying to say that’s what we do at all; we kind of do it just because that’s what we know and that’s where we’re coming from. But I think one of the reasons why it’s so big is because it’s really, really difficult to actually be good and original …

JK: And to be heard.

SS: … when it’s really easy to just be like, "Well, I like The Cars, so I’m going to do something exactly like The Cars." That tends to be what people do. God, trying to do something original these days, that’s a tough thing to do. But we just do what we like; sometimes it sounds nostalgic, and sometimes it doesn’t. That’s how we write.

OMC: Where does the title of the album come from, "............Again"? 

JK: (laughs) It kind of just came from us not having an idea of what to call the record. We were going back and forth, coming up with ideas. I think at first, it was going to be called "Pressed for Time," and then I kind of changed my mind and didn’t want to do it.

SS: "………...Again" worked out of "Play Again," like at the end of a video game. Rather than trying to be all digital age about it, we just wanted to fit the artwork a little bit more.

OMC: What were kind of the things you wanted to build upon with this, your sophomore album together?

JK: I think we were just establishing our sound for the most part and getting comfortable working together. We’ve been working together for years before that; he’s recorded a lot of material for me, and we’ve collaborated on a couple of songs. From the first album, we got a feel for what works and what people like. A lot of times, you see what’s successful and what kind of songs DJs are playing out and things like that. Really, we try to recreate a lot of those things and try to improve that sound and make it better.

SS: It’s kind of like DJing from scratch. You see what makes the crowd move and what makes the crowd not move, and you go with the things that make the crowd move. We’re just kind of defining and honing what we are, and I think we’re getting tighter. Even though it’s a really eclectic at times mix or mess of things, but there’s definitely a sound or a thread that goes through.

OMC: How did the creative process for "………...Again" go?

SS: In general, it really comes down to sometimes I’ll have a musical thing that I’ve been working on for the past week. John will come in for practice, and I’ll say, "What do you think of this?" He’ll say either that sucks or he’ll say I love it, and we’ll go on from there. Or else he’ll come in with a pop hook, and I’ll say that sounds strong. It’s just a back and forth like that for us. We kind of come from similar but different angles, so when we both feel like it’s good, we know it’s good.

JK: We just kind of go into it trying to write jams and songs that we enjoy and that we hope other people enjoy as well.

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.