Monday, June 30, 2014

Shop Talk with Po'Safe Beats

So. I've known this guy for a couple years now. I started following him over twitter and then when I was on Instagram. He was always posting crazy albums on vinyl, his record collection is close to legendary. He's a super down to earth guy who has crisp clean beats. We sat down to a few brews a talked shop. Here's a nice album of beat from him to peep while you read through.

A.I. - "Let start with the same, same ole. Who are you, where are you from and how long have you been making music?"

PS - "My name is Jason, but I'm Po' Safe Beats. Originally from Lawton, OK, currently residing in St. Louis, MO. Been making music probably about 18 years now."

A.I. - "What was it that got you into playing music?"

PS - "Funny question. I always sang in choir, never played any instruments. In high school I started listening to a lot of hip hop and electronic music. Always reading liner notes, reading "produced by." I wanted to be the producer. So I chose to go to school for studio engineering to learn how music was made. While in school, learning studio recording, I started experimenting in the studio. Attempting to remake songs I knew. I discovered drum machines, and keyboards, and later sampling. Then I started making beats. So in a round about way that's what got me started in "playing" music."

A.I. - "We've chatted a few times on twitter where you seem pretty knowledgeable about guitars and instruments. I'm assuming that studio experience is where that comes from or were you playing any instruments during that time?"

PS - "Not really. For my degree I had to take piano and guitar lessons, but honestly, I really do not play. Only 3 semesters of guitar, I can play a little. and piano about killed me. I was more the engineer in school. Recorded countless albums and learned a lot along the way. Summer of 98 I got my turntables. Spring of 99 I got my MPC. Those were the game changers."

A.I. - "Your musical tastes are so diverse. What kind of albums were you listening to back in school that you thought 'I wanna make albums like this'?"

PS - "Honestly, I grew up in the church. I listened to a lot of christian music. Not your typical christian music. A lot of gospel rap, alternative, and electronic musics. Then I went to a christian liberal arts college, where I was introduced to a lot of music i never heard but should have. my next door neighbor in the dorm would be listening to Zeppelin one minute, Ice Cube the next, then Nine Inch Nails. The dude across the hall was a total Pink Floyd head. He actually taught me a lot in the studio. Gave me my first engineering credit on a CD he was recording. I have to shout out some of my major influences... Sup, aka Soup the Chemist from SFC. Peace 586, Freedom Of Soul, Tunnel Rats. LPG. Scott Blackwell, and his Nsoul label. I still listen to their music to this day. Then Endtroducing came out. That was freshman year. I think the entire second semester that's all I listened to. Between all this new/old music, learning recording, it changed everything."

A.I. - "Having so many digital options and software/hardware available how was the transition from working with artists in studios to having a home studio?"

PS - "When I first learned recording it was on ADATs, then I had a chance to record on 2" analog tape, then the school transitioned to Protools. So I had experience all around. After school I really didn't have a home recording set up for quite awhile. Just me and my records and MPC. I had friends with mbox's and digi's, so we would record that way. I went through a couple different cheap home set ups, but finally settled on running sonar on my PC. One day I will upgrade to a mac with Protools. I'm a cheapy though. But to answer your question, the transition? In the studio I actually recorded with bands. Full instruments, multitrack recording and what not. Now it's just me tracking out beats and occasionally recording an emcee. Usually though it's just in house production and then send it off to someone to use. I miss the artist interaction. The internet is great cause it connects you with so many people, but I miss the working in the same room vibe. There are some people I can send tracks back and forth with and build in a similar fashion. But a lot of times it's just "here's the beat, record to it, okay, we're done."

A.I. - "Be yeah the, send them a ruff edit to see if they're digging the feel, then bam they record and release a track over that beat, haha."

PS - "Exactly."

A.I. - There is something about feeding off the other artist energy that builds something you can't describe. The same thing happens in a good emcee cypher. I'd say that's one of the hardest things about being a "Producer" in today's music scene. The producer should be shaping songs and pushing the artist in different directions which that can't always hear on their own. Today it's like make me a beat and I'll do the rest and say you produced the song. It's the beat maker/producer debate.

PS - "Exactly. I always preach that I am a beat maker until I am involved in the songwriting process, then I become the producer. Too often the "producer" title gets thrown around too much. When I was working with bands in the studio, a lot of the time I was just the engineer. Then sometimes I was actually a producer. same could be said with beat making."

A.I. - "I like 3's so let name 3 pieces of gear you'd buy if money was no issue?"

PS - "The MPC 60, MPC 3000, and SP1200 all beat machines haha."

A.I. - "You ever try the SP1200 or an ASR? Or are you did you get the MPC and just stick with that over the years?"

PS - "The first dude that intro'd me to making beats was all ASR-10. I toured with his band as sound tech/roadie/bus driver, and we had a side project making beats and electronic remixes. So I learned a lil bit on the ASR. When it came time for my own beat machine, I got an MPC2000 off Ebay. Had the same machine since. Known a couple cats to have an SP, but never really had a chance to mess around with one."

A.I. - "What's the best advice you could give someone just starting out making beats. Like both in how to move in your career and also in getting a good sounding beat?"

PS - "Just make music. Make the music that makes you happy. Find like-minded people and work with them, learn and grow with them. Be patient. Practice practice practice. You don't just sit down and make the perfect beat, or write the perfect song."

A.I. - "Your record collection is pretty crazy. Where do you even start when looking for a record to sample. Do you have a certain style of music you like sampling the best?"

PS - "Funny question, figured the records were gonna come up. Honestly, a lot of the time I sample from the newest stuff I have purchased. My collection is mostly all sorted alphabetically. I do have hip hop 12's in a separate section, sorted by bpm. I also have soundtracks and compilations in their own category, but most everything sorted is alphabetical by artist so I can find it easily. I will have my newly purchased records stacked around and as I listen through them make mental notes of sample-worthy portions, or just sample on the spot. I always say I am going to start a notebook, or do the post it note thing on the records, but I never do. For me sampling is spontaneous. I can listen to an album one day and not hear anything, then months or years later pull it out and hear something completely different. That's the joy of sampling for me. I listen a lot. I guess I am a fan of the music first. As for genres or go to records. I sample a lot from the kind of cheesy easy listening records. I love christian/gospel/jesus music. But really, whatever catches my eye."

A.I. - :Haha. I think that sometimes about organizing stuff I have but then I've actually sampled the same song with out knowing and it turned out totally different. Just because I hear thing different from day to day myself."

PS - "Exactly!"

A.I. - "You did that album of beats totally made of ohh was it, Band On The Run, wings? Samples.

PS - "Yes! I have to thank Wasabi Macaroni on twitter for that one. One night he challenged me to do that, so I went out, found the record, and did it, lol. Now that was an exercise. Some of the beats are stretching it, but I was actually surprised with a few of them. I think three of the beats from that project have made it on albums, 2 released and 1 unreleased, so far."

A.I. - "That pushing to find something was sort of what the 'Night At The Movies' was all about for me too."

PS - "Definitely. Even if you aren't completely happy with the total outcome, the process and the challenge helps you grow as a creator. When I was in college I had the privilege to get to know a lot of artists/painters. Painters do "studies," where they will study an artist, copy or mimic some of their works, then do an original work in that artists style. That always intrigued me. They would learn from that artist by imitating them, and then incorporating it into their own work or style, challenging them to work/think differently."

A.I. - "So what next on you plate for musical projects?"

PS - "I'm currently mixing J Draughon's album. I have some remixes on deck for both biathlon and Iceberg Theory, as well as trying to compile my next beat tape project, which i have yet to find a theme/idea for, just making beats til I know. I had a local kid holler at me the other day interested in possibly working, need to open up a line of communication and test the waters."

A.I. - "I really appreciate the time you set aside to do this with me. Thank you vet much sir."

PS - "Sure, anytime. If you need more, let me know."

Shop Talk With Digital Fiend

So I had a chance to sit down a get on record with one of the most underrated musicians I know, Digital Fiend. He's a really good personal friend of mine and great to chat music with. We go over a whole bunch of recording, gear and random stuff. Here's some music to listen to while you read through. A EP Digital Fiend did with Atari Blitzkrieg, 'Chase The Dragon'.

A.I. - "#1. Who are you, where are you from and how long have you been making music? #2. What got you into making music?"

DF - "#1. I was born in DC, and grew up in Prince Georges county MD. I've been making music since 1993....#2. My father was a drummer for the band The Hellions in the 60's, and I used to see his pictures growing up, and wanted to play drums. He never taught me how to play though because when he got screwed over by Ray Stevens on a contract for the song Guitarzan, he gave it up after years of gigging, so all I had was the pictures and stories. Simply put my father the drummer got me started."

A.I. - "So you started drumming first?"

DF - "Yeah"

A.I. - "When you started who were drummers besides your father that you wanted to play like? Who are three drummers out today your really digging? And try and name 3 over the years you've changed your opinion on? Like I remember thinking players weren't that great years ago then as my ear expands I notice they're playing has more to it that's I first thought."

DF - "Mitch Mitchell...I don't know the names of any other drummers off the top of my head. Oh Sly Dunbar, and Style Scott 2 reggae drummers. Neil Pert.

A.I. - "You ever check Chris Daddy Dave or Steve Jordan? Those are probably my fav current drummers. The guy from Dave Mathews Band was awesome too."

DF - "I know DMB, but their names I never knew..No I don't know those dudes.

A.I. - "When did you start recording music?'

DF - "1994, when a buddy of mine got a 4 track for his birthday"

A.I. - "How was working with a 4 track? Would you just record the drums as one whole track with a single mic?"

DF - "2 mics, one on bass drum and one in between the hi hat and snare."

A.I. - "So let's walk through from the 4 track days to let say the 2001-2002 era. Did you do recordings? On What? What kind of other instruments were you playing? All that type of jazz."

DF - "Yes recordings. Those days I was using electribes, sequencer, and a korg kaoss pad with a fostex digital 4 track, zoom drum machine, and still playing drums and congas."

A.I. - "What got you into drum machines? Was moving from real drums to a drum machine easy or was it like taking a step back in what you could do?"

DF - "My friend Christian got me into Midi equipment, it was like taking a step forward. It was easier to play, I picked right up on it like it was nothing. Then I started laying real drums over the drum machine."

A.I. - "I mainly got into midi because recording a kit is so hard and requires too many good mics to make a quality recording. Although I never played drums I had to learn it all on a drum machine. I mean I could probably mic an acoustic guitar for hours with one or two mics before I got a sound I really dug. Haha"

DF - "Yeah, the only time I ever got a good recording of drums was when Christians dad paid for studio time for us and we took every weekend for 2 months and layed tracks in a super duper studio. That and when Atari takes my live drum tracks and mixes them. I got mics and a 16 track mixer that I only took out the box a few times. I could set up the drums and mic them and all that..only problem is I'm by myself, and its hard enough going back and fourth from the drums to my 8 track..with 2 mics ..I couldn't imagine having to do it by myself with the entire drums mic'ed. When I do drums I do em in tracks, hi hat, bass, then I lay snare on a separate, and rolls and crash and all that good shit later. That's why I miss being in a band. I miss it, and I don't miss it lol."

A.I. - "Haha yeah that's a big part as well for me. I wanted to not be relying on anyone to make my music. Being in a band is hard aside from the music the personality and relationships are hard to deal with. I track all my stuff out now but I have like 120 tracks or something I've never used as opposed to being reduced to 4 or 8 tracks."

DF - "Yeah, I see those huge Cadillac looking mixers 32 tracks, etc.  And I think . Jesus do they really need all those tracks..64 track mixer? you're just showing off!  Lol. But yeah, they have it set up for purposes, I know..but still..damn!! A 65 track mixer can buy a fucking car, or put a down payment on a house."

A.I. - "Yeah I work pretty minimally and think its more about using what you have creatively than having a ton of expensive gear. People forget that lots of great albums they love were made on less than we have today. I do think that the best part of the digital studio today is the ability to not have a band and have control over everything myself."

DF - "Exactly, but I still like getting new shit to play with, some of the old gear just looses its edge when it comes to sounds. Like the old electribe, the patterns in it suck now......unless you play it like a little keyboard and tweek it..other than that, I'm bored with the sounds it came with back in the day. Everything I have..I use!  I still think that having mad equipment to play with is much better than just using FL and calling that a Studio.  there is no musicianship in fucking fruity loops man. Lol. I'm not hating on it though. I use acidpro still sometimes, but I lace it with hardware."

A.I. - "What was your favorite piece of gear over the years and why?"

DF - "Sequencer. I'll get back to you with why."

A.I. - "Haha Ok, I've never used a sequencer. What exactly does it do?"

DF - "The MPC is like a sequencer, but it has sampling capabilities.....the sequencer I use does just has sounds built in, and MPC stlye pads, you can get other sound chips to put in it and beef it up, it's OOP, so the only place you can go anymore to get parts is Ebay....16 tracks, drums, bass, keys, efx, basically whatever you want, and can manipulate and filter and make your own tracks. Any "box" or piece of gear that you can lay down tracks with and record straight into, is a sequencer..MPC included ...hence the word "Sequencer"..or whatever the fuck. how many tracks can you record to with your MPC? ONTO your MPC?"

A.I. -  I guess I have 16 pads on the MPC as for how many tracks, I'm not sure. I don't know how to use the MPC that well. I seem to get 8-9 sounds happening at once and then they start dropping things out. It depends on if the sound is mono or stereo I think. To be honest I mainly use Fruity Loops, haha, I try to apply as much musicianship as possible though."

DF - "I hear you..yeah man, it's cool. You are a guitar player, I can't play the guitar, I always wanted to though. I tried, but I just don't have it. Yeah man I use acidpro.

A.I. - "So if money was no issue what 3 pieces of gear would you get, and why?"

DF - "I'd get a Korg entrancer to manipulate video with turntables, another EMU mp-7 with full upgrade maxed out sound chips, because mine is about to take a dump and an Electribe EA1- MKII to upgrade from the one I've got now."

A.I. - "Throughout this conversation it sounds like you don't sample but I always though you did both sampling and composing?" 

DF - "I do, and I thought about that too, what you said, but yeah I do...crazy."

A.I. - "Where do you want to go with you music now? Like musically. What would you imagine you next ideal album to be. Like let's say a big label picked you up, put you in a nice studio and you could work with either singers or emcees. What kind of album would you make?"

DF - "Very electronic, tweek and destroy, with Atari, BionicHeart and now my brother Ostu, with live instruments layered over top of it all."

A.I. - "What advice would you give to somebody just starting out making beats or music in general?"

DF - "Stay in school, and don't do drugs."

A.I. - "Haha. Guess that explains why I didn't make it in the business, haha. Let's talk about your last release with Atari. One thing I was stoked on when I heard about it was 'oh damn, new DF music'. Then when it came up it was all old beats you made which had guitar over them and post production. I'm not sure what you where involved with in that past making the beats years ago. Also since its not brand new stuff from you it was new to me whenever you made it and really I don't know when any of the stuff you have released was made, and does that even matter anyway?"

DF - "That was the vibe of that project. Everything else has been new made for the specific projects. Those beats fit the vibe so they were used. Old and dusty, and those were old, and dusty so they made the cut. And no it doesn't matter as far as i'm concerned, like you said, they were new to you, so its like those beats finally saw their day of being heard. better to get to enjoy them being out and heard when you are alive, then when you're dead."

A.I. - "So where do you go from here? What's next on you plate for music?"

DF - "Keep doing what I've been doing."

A.I. - "Yeah big thanks to you bro for doing this chat with me. It was cool as always, really appreciate it."

DF - "Cool man. Thank you."

Saturday, June 14, 2014

MeccaGodZilla - ISA VIOLET (Official Video) feat DJ Hibi Bliss / Undergr...

Been meaning to post this for a few days. Just try to soak in the vibe from this cuz it's deep when you get it.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Free Bass Samples

I've been meaning to set this up for a while now. I went through a few of my tracks and pulled out a bar of a bassline that I played on a synth. Go ahead and download the samples and use em how you want. I'd appreciate if you used em in a track to show me the beat cuz that would be awesome. Have fun, enjoy and be creative. ---> Free Bass Samples <--- br="">

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Product by Jazz Spastiks

Also out recently was the new Jazz Spastiks album. This is a solid joint which turns a bit expensive when converting to Can dollars but worth it if your looking for a vinyl purchase of dope quality sounding hiphop.

A Clean, Well​-​Lighted Place by PremRock

So here it is the new PremRock album. It's $5 so yeah you should be grabbing this up. Listen and stop reading.


Sunday, April 13, 2014

Shop Talk With Scott Xylo

So here's the third installment of Shop Talk. This time I went across the world to talk to Scott Xylo from the UK. He recently released this great video game styled Scott Piglrim EP which caught my ear. He's into retro gaming, synths, good music and anime. What else does it take to get featured on here? Take a listen and peep shop talk #3.

A.I. - "Ok, so who are you, where are you from and how long have you been making music?"

SX - "Whats good? I'm Scott Xylo, I'm from Leicester, UK (Its a small city in England) and I've been making music for 3 years now."

A.I. - "Is that three years recording or total playing time?"

SX - "That's 3 years of making beats, lol I haven't really rapped or sung in the past, I've just loved music."

A.I. - "What was it that got you into making beats?"

SX - "Really I wanted to do cartoon animation and become like Seth McFarland hahaha but I didn't have the grades to do it at school, so I did a course in music technology instead. I was inspired by those videos on YouTube of Kanye Making beats in the studio, so I thought I could do that hahaha."

A.I. - "I had no idea how beats were made when I started. I had guitars, bass and a drum machine and then I just got a computer to record. What was your first gear setup like and what are you using now.?"

SX - "I started with a laptop, headphones and FL studio but now I have same haha but with a pair of Newmark monitors and MIDI keyboard. I'm a very resourceful guy."

A.I.- "For some reason I thought you were an Ableton guy?"

SX - "Haha. That's weird because I've just started playing with Ableton and its really dope! I also I DJ with Ableton as well."

A.I. - "Yeah the live aspect of playing beats seems to be the biggest thing I see set FL Studio and Ableton apart."

SX - "Yeah like I've seen some dudes perform with FL and some videos but I love the Ableton layout and its easy to pick up."

A.I. - "Not from a business side but strictly from making quality beats. What's the best advice you could give someone who right now is just starting to get into making beats?"

SX - "Well the first thing I would say is to be true to yourself and make what you want make, because there has been so many times when dudes have told me to not sample and stop sampling and if I did that, I wouldn't be the person I'm at now. The next I would say is don't fall into trends that will make you sound like everyone else, just do your own thing and try be something different. Really the key thing is just be yourself."

A.I. - "You sampled up a whole bunch of video game music on this Scott Pilgrim record. Tells us about how that all came together."

SX - "Haha. To be honest I only sampled 2 games on that, Con_tra88!!! and Lv. 88 Pikachu everything else I just played in. The Idea all started from the Percee P & Madlib track 2 Brothers From The Gutter.

I'm a huge Madlib fan so when I heard he sampled Contra (which is one of my all time favorite games) I flipped out so I wanted do something in that 8 bit style, but all of the best video game samples were taken so I thought why don't I make my own samples and trick people thinking I sampled it from old NES games. So for 2 months I started to study old video game composers like David Wise, Hirokazu Tanaka, Yasunori Mitsuda and others. I took their chords style, what waves they use and how to keep that authentic NES sounds, but then after finished the EP it I felt like this 8bit hip-hop thing should be my style so I kept it. The one thing I love about making 8 bit music is since its only square waves and saw waves it limits what you can do, so that keeps my creativity active to what more you can do with those waves."

A.I. - "There is something about working within limitations that makes you push against those limits and are forced into being more creative than actually having access to limitless possibilities. That's actually sort of the whole life blood of hiphop really."

SX - "Yeah definitely, I have to say since I started making 8 bit hip hop a whole world has opened to me, and it is like when dudes in the 80's and the 90's just only use samples they broke those walls on how you can transform a sample."

A.I. - "What VSTs were you using when making the beats for the Scott Pilgrim EP?"

SX - "The VSTs I used on Scott Pilgrim were Chip 32, Tweakbench Peach, Tweakbench Toad, some soundfonts and I used my Gameboy Color haha I hacked it."

A.I. - "Name a couple 8-16bit favorite game soundtracks and couple you just like playing?"

SX - "I have loads but my favorites in no order are Streets of Rage 2, Metroid (the NES one), Chrono Trigger, Donkey Kong Country 2 and Secret of Mana. I love playing the Street Fighter II soundtrack. The Adventure of Link, Pokémon Red, Castlevania, Ninja Gaiden (NES one) and Punch-Out. Oh and the Super Mario Bros soundtrack. Ha!"

A.I. - "Looking to the future. What new music projects are on the horizon? What gear are you interested in getting. Last but not least what games are you looking for."

SX - "I have a new EP which is dropping in June haha I've almost finished it and it's called 2003//HeERO Scott its going to be an EP about the things I did back in 2003 also its a dedication to the UK Toonami because sadly it got shutdown back in 2007 but I have VHS tape that I'm going to sample from and use in the beats. There will be 3 more EPs on the way after that one. I really want to get a Akai apc40 so I won't have to borrow my friends MPD when I'm performing and I want to a NES and SNES console so I wont have to use emulators and my Xbox controller. I'm looking to get a copy of Mega man 2, Earthbound, Contra and Pokemon Stadium."

A.I. - "I really appreciate your time in doing this with me. Look forward to new stuff your putting out and hopefully this turns a few heads your way cuz I'm really digging what your doing man."

SX - "Thank you for having me and i with the same in the future to you, I also want to shout-out PIR▲.MD RECORDS, Gin-Yu Clan, DivineAtoms, SENZU COLLECTIVE仙 and all my homies you know who you are."


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Shop Talk with Black Tokyo

I've known Black Tokyo for quite a while now maybe even 4 years which is like a decade in internet time. He alway has solid projects knocking out and is a great photographer. I got a chance to chat with him about old and new gear as well as other randomness in this new Shop Talk.

A.I. - "Ok let's do the basics. Who are you, where are you from and how long have you been doing music?"

BT - "I'm Black-Tokyo,  I'm from Fairfax Va. Which is a suburb of DC. and I been sitting doing music since I was about 7. I started as a emcee and around 2001-2002 I got in to making beats. It wasn't until 2006 I started finding my niche beat wise and started emceeing less."

A.I. - "What was it that got you into making beats over just rapping?"

BT - "I never could get good beats from producers. So I thought to myself if I could make beats for emcees who loved the craft and myself then it would do justice. Also my biggest goal was to make music for artists (painters, graphic designers of the like). I was irritated at rap and wanted to make soundtracks for artist instead."

A.I. - "What gear did you start out using?"

BT - "Tape deck looping then a 4 track and then an ASR then a MPC1000 twice. My second one got stolen and so did my records so I gave up on equipment and got introduced to FL. I've been back and forth over the years from MPC1000 to FL vice versa.  Mainly FL, over the years though."

A.I. - "I personally love FL Studio and it might be my favorite to use out of all that I've worked with. Although sometimes would like to go back to the first recording program I used. I notice the limitations or functions of each give you a different creative vibe. Which set up, over the years, did you vibe with like that or like using the best?"

BT - "I can say the MPC1000 has the best set up because it makes you listen to the record and you find gems. Because of the MPC is how I'm able to use FL in the same way. Only difference is FL is easy for everyone to learn and make stuff sound really good but the bad part is the life and vibe that come along with it is missing. Unless you've learned old school. Love FL to death but I would not be able to use it if I had never (.a looped beats on tape decks and (b. Learned how to use a MPC.

A.I. - "One more gear question. If money wasn't an object which two pieces of gear would you most like to own?"

BT - "Good question and there so many good pieces of equipment so I'd say A full sized Moog moded the hell out and a MPC2500 with a interface mod so I can run sounds back and forth from the comp and not have to use disk or memory cards."

A.I. - "Last time I was talking to Lazlo about an artist only really needing to put out an album every 2-3 years but that not being much of a reality today. You put out an album worth almost every 2 months. How much of the time do you feel pressured to put music out? How much is just that you make so much and want to get it out? And how often do you think an artist today needs to release a full album?"

BT - "I never feel pressured to put out music. I make music according to my mood and put it out like a comic book. Each EP or album is an episode. Artists need to release and full length album every six months if there touring or not. I think it will keep the listener in tune to the artist."

A.I. - "What new projects are in your future?

BT - "Pistol Opera Agency 2 and maybe a new EP coming soon plus an album I produced for Plznigga, J Quest, Cosemp and hopefully my rap album plus a few upcoming Uncommon Records projects. I can as one of the most underrated beatsmiths, I stay busy working thanks to good fam such as you and many others."

A.I. - "How come we don't see a full album out of you rapping over your beats?"

BT - 'Well truth be told I only rap here and there plus been to lazy to get a mic, but after enough request its coming prolly summertime. Aqua Boogie the self titled album."

A.I. - "What's better, making beats at 3PM or 3AM?"

BT - "It all depends on my mood. I can make em whenever. It's whenever I hear that sample or my mojo says "its time to chop and cook" really."

A.I. - I really appreciate your time in sitting down to do this. Looking forward to any new stuff on your horizion.

BT - "Thank you g and hope this sheds a little light on me and my process."


Lens (Maxi Single) Prod. By: Quelle Chris by PremRock

Here's another new joint which I have not yet peeped but I'm sure it's worthy to post for those who don't know. Heck I really have no idea who reads this blog on a regular basis, thanks to those who do though. Prems definitly one of my favorite emcees out right now. This gives looking forward to his new album coming soon. DJ A.I.

ERROARS 2​.​2: Metal Sakura by MeccaGodZilla

New instrumental album dropped today from MeccaGodzilla. Haven't actually had time to peep this but I have a min to post it. I'm sure that this is great so hope you dig it.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Shop Talk With Karl Lazlo

So recently I got to have a nice chat with a friend and great music producer Karl Lazlo. I've known Lazlo for about 3 years now. He's released a couple full albums that I know of plus a bunch of really dope EPs and singles. If your unfamiliar I've posted his last album below. We talk about his last release and a bunch of other random stuff in this first instalment of Shop Talk.
A.I. - "Let's just get the boring stuff out of the way. Who are you, where are your from, how long have you been making beats?"

Lazlo - "Haha, no doubt. I'm Karl Lazlo.  I was raised in Chalfont, Pennsylvania, a small suburb of Philadelphia. I started making beats in late 1998 using some old keyboards, a drum machine, and a Tascam cassette 4 track in my dad's spare room."

A.I. - "Wow the old analog area. I actually did some of my first recordings on a Tascam. Do you feel a difference in the creative process from back then to now with the conveniences of the digital studio?"

Lazlo - "Absolutely, it's a whole different world. Track space was so precious back then, now it's unlimited. It seems prehistoric looking back at it. I had a keyboard MIDI'ed to a sampler (an Akai SP-20, which I think I still have somewhere), MIDI'ed to a Zoom drum was a mess. Lol"

A.I. - "Were you playing keyboards before making beats or did you get into them with making beats?"

Lazlo - "I never took lessons, but I had some cheap Casio keyboards as a kid that I would play around with. Once I got the sampler, I gravitated towards that and away from the keyboards. Later on, I took some piano & electronic music synthesis classes in college, so I honed those skills a little more at that time."

A.I. - "If you could have any 2 pieces of gear for the studio what would they be?"

Lazlo - "I've been using the same MPC 2000 since 2004, so I'm pretty out of the loop when it comes to gear.  But...I would definitely get the Native Instruments Maschine Studio.  Other than that, I'd probably get a Rane mixer for my DJ rig so I could use Serato."

A.I. - "You ever tried a SP 12 or the ASR?"

Lazlo - "No. Not once. Nothing against them...I just always was drawn to the Akai brand for some reason."

A.I. - "I've never tried them either but I'm curious to check them out. Lots of Heiro stuff was made with an ASR and Blockhead and EL-P use them. On the other hand I love the old Nick Wiz SP 12 beats. Some things there`s just not enough time in life for. I probably haven`t even reached a full understanding of my MPC yet haha."

Lazlo - "Definitely. Once, I learn something...I don't want to learn it another way...I want to master it the way I learned. Especially now that I'm older,  time is harder & harder to come by."

A.I. - "Let's talk Built For War. One reason wanted to chat is because I love concept albums and if I'm not mistaken your last album was concept album right?"

Lazlo - "Yeah, we decided to make it a concept album. It started out with Loyal and I making a few songs, then a theme started forming so I figured run with it. We would get together and talk about the story, then new ideas for songs would come up. I'm still very happy with the way the album came out. The production process I used on it is different than anything else I've ever done."

A.I. - "One thing I never heard anything about was the cover which I really love. It reminds me of a cross between a prog rock cover and a rap album cover. Who did the cover anyway? The whole thing actually kind of reminds of prog rock album mixed with a rap album was that something you guys did consciously?"

Lazlo - "Cool. Yeah, the album cover was my vision, that a friend of mine, Harry Boardman, brought to life. I told him my ideas, and he sent me some rough ideas, which Loyal & I would critique and send back. We didn't know what we were gonna call the album at first. Then when we made the track Built for War, I started thinking about it, and the cover idea came to me. Then the album formed around the cover concept, and the few songs we had already made. I guess to answer your question, it wasn't our intention for it to look like a prog rock cover, but maybe the artist was thinking along those lines."

A.I. - "And what about in terms of sound?"

Lazlo - "At some point in 2011, I started creating my own samples and making beats out of them. Each beat was a 2 part process that took anywhere up to 12 hours. It's really hard to describe without going into a million details. Anyway, I came to Loyal with about 15 of these beats at first, which we used about half.  The other half were made during the making of the album. I wanted it to sound like the beats were sampled, but they weren't. Some songs, like Warp Speed & The Solution were just composed & sequenced on the MPC & Cubase, minus the 2nd part of the process. I've been called a mad scientist by more than one person. lol"

A.I. - "The other reason I wanted to talk deeper was a few weeks back I tweeted I was proud I made 2 albums and didn't sample anything. It turned into a big debate over whether sampling is the same as playing and composing. I seen you the next week saying your album contained no samples. I'm assuming that this is also a point of pride for you? If so why?"

Lazlo - "Right on. Yeah, I'm proud of it.  It gives the producer so much more control over the sound of the beat. Now you have control of not only the types of sounds, but the intervals and percussion accompaniment. For one of the beats, I actually recreated the music from "If You're Going to San Francisco" by Scott McKenzie, then chopped it up into the Kick Rocks beat. Sampling is an artform, don't get me wrong. I'm only making samples beats at this point. But I wanted this project to be all original. It also opens up a lot more possibilites on the business end as well."

A.I. - "No samples to clear if you want to do that."

Lazlo - "Pretty much. Although that doesn't really matter until a certain point.  I didn't want a ceiling for the project."

A.I. - "What's the direction your headed in next? Any new albums or a sequel with Loyal lined up?"

Lazlo - "Creatively, I'm going in a more simple, time-effective direction lol.  I don't dig through music anymore, I let the songs that I sample come to me. Haze Attacks, another producer that I've known since I started, has been pushing me to work faster. I can only go so fast, though. I feel like the complexity or subtleties of my beats are what make them special. If I don't feel that it's special, what's the point? As far as new projects go, Loyal & I have discussed a follow up EP "The Legend of Laz-LoyaL", but nothing has materialized yet. Other than that, I'm focusing on singles. I have a song with Rahzwell that needs to be released.  I have beats out to Jym Kelly of the Uncanny, junclassic, E-life, and a few others. Making albums is stressful.  I have some abstract ideas for albums, but I doubt they'll ever happen."

A.I. - "I feel you on the time issue I think an artist really only need to do a release once every three years but that's not a reality to most in the industry today."

Lazlo - "That seems about right.  Honestly, I don't know what the formula is.  At this point I'm just trying to make good music."

A.I. - "Well I've been diggin your releases for a while so I hope to hear more. Glad I got a chance to hold you down for a chat. I appreciate your time sir."

Lazlo - "No problem man, thanks for your support as always!"

Monday, March 3, 2014

Twenty-Two by Uncommon Nasa (Official Video)

So Uncommon Nasa made a video for this song 'Twenty Two' off his 'Land Of The Way It Is' LP. I'm not that big of a music video guy, sometimes they are done right though and I think this one was.


Tuesday, February 25, 2014

We Are Entitled To Everything

So I'm sure I'll never get to the bottom of this topic or some resolution but I just had to throw a side of copywrite infringement out which I never see discussed. I'm a musician so I've seen tons of the battles over illegal downloading. I've also battled the side that sampling is a form of stealing, which it is by law. You may not like that law but I'm sure the people illegally downloading your music don't like that law either. The unfortunate side of this is for whatever reason, I don't have the time or interest to determine, sampling has been something that companies actually take action over. It's probably because big record labels aren't really affected by illegal downloading and that it's easier to prosecute a sampler? I digress.
First thing I got to thinking about today when I got home was the crazy prices on these reproduction games. The games which are a hack of an original game actually put on a cart you can play in your NES or SNES, I'm sure there are ones for Genesis and SMS I've just never seen them. So at my local retro game store you can get a Zelda game which is a hack of Link To The Past. The game clearly has Link and a triforce on the front. There is also a Super Metroid version with Samus and the name Metroid in the title. Those things aside, these games are using the intellectual property of the developer as all these people are doing in editing the existing code. Which I have absolutely nothing against this in principle making a copy to SELL is a totally different thing. That's outright stealing and profiting from another persons hard work. If you didn't create or pay for rights to use Samus or the name Metroid then your stealing that and profiting from it. That's wrong I don't care how you look at it. 
Then I got to thinking about how that's going on with tons of stuff. I was at a local comic place who sells lots of iron on things for T-shirts. A person was browsing and asked the clerk it they had a Wu-Tang symbol. I had to translate to the clerk what the customer was looking for then they checked and no they didn't have it. They told the customer it would take them a bit to make it as they would need to get the image and create one. I quickly realized that this was not something they were paying Wu-Tang to use. The name and symbol is owned by RZA unless I'm wrong, which I may be?? Either way you can't make money off something like that without it being a crime. 
I was working a project which I had planned to sample up music from Street Fighter games. I had no intention of charging for this as I don't own the rights to the music so I can't make money off of that. Ethically I believe that's wrong. Anyway, I needed a cover for the album and I knew someone on twitter who draws SF characters fairly well. I asked them if they would be interested in doing a cover for me and the first thing they started talking about was how much they may charge me. First off I told them it was going to a free project for fun not a deep art project of my own creation. But yeah how the fuck can you charge me to draw a character you have to rights to?? You didn't invent RYU or Sagat? 
I wish this was something I'd seen once or twice but it's not, I see it all the time. There's a ton of people out there selling this stuff on ETSY. Like hey cool you made a Mario pin but selling and making money off that without paying the creator is illegal.
One thing like this that really set me off was the youtubers who play games and record them, post them to YouTube and cash in on the ad money. Yes there were people making a living off this. Then YouTube changed the rules saying you can't monetize these videos. Totally makes sense to me. If you created Minecraft and want to monetize the video of the game you have all the rights. What I saw however was people crying that this was unfair. How? How should you get to use something someone else created, make money off it and not pay them anything? 
Movies, music, images, text, all these things are created and owned by someone yet today we feel that we should have free reign on using them AND profiting from them with any consequences. Am I completely out in left field with this I really think not. The reason somebody is buying your Mario pin is because Mario in a Nintendo Icon. Try making your own character and see how it sells? It won't because people aren't buying your work as much as they are buying the original content that was created by someone else. Sure sure this is cool and I'd never try to stop someone from drawing up the Wu symbol or making a cool picture of RYU but should they be able to SELL this as a work of their own? I don't think so. 
Hey I'm just an overly opinionated musician who notices things. Stick around for next time when we go into sampling copywrites full force. Maybe haha. Thanks for reading and leave a comment if it moves you.
 DJ A.I.