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 machine...it 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!"