Hi there. First off, congrats to the Cleveland Cavs for pulling off that incredible comeback. I’m sure many of you don’t care about sports but, as a basketball guy, that shit was amazing to watch. My condolences to all my bay area fam and friends…but you guys sucked the last three games.
Anywayyyy, this is Answers for Questions! you ask! I answer! I’m always in need of new questions so how bout you put your thinking cap on and send me some? Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or leave the questions in the comment section below. Be creative and be weird. It makes it better for both of us. Let’s see what we got going this week…
How old were you when you used the internet for the first time and which sites do you remember visiting?
I first used the internet when I was 17. I was a freshman in college and , prior to that, didn’t have a computer in my house. I remember getting my first email address and the only other people who had email addresses that I knew were other college students. Funny enough, I still sent letters to people. Like, literal handwritten letters. So, clearly, email wasn’t a big thing at that point.
As for sites, I didn’t really look too far. It was so early there was no word of mouth on what there was out there so I didn’t look. Like, even porn would have been difficult. It was also only dial up and anything with a picture took forever to load. I would frequent newsgroups/chat rooms and mostly I was up in hip hop related things. Alt.music.rap was the first thing I ever got really involved in and that later changed to rec.music.hip.hop ,which was a small community of like minded hip hop nerds who would trade tapes and talk about music. I was a pretty big part of that for a while. It was also where I sold Aesop’s first album. Like THAT one place was the beginning of how word spread outside of NYC on the internet about Aesop.
Could you, nay, will you make an EP of a handful of songs made with samples of cereal commercial jingles of the late 80s/early 90s? Don’t do it for you. Do it for us!
I mean, I’m sure I could. Problem is I don’t have any of those songs and I’m not so intrigued by the idea that I’mmma go seek them out. But, if someone wants to compile a bunch for me, I’d consider it.
Have you ever publicly gone through your process of creating a tune in depth (à la Song Exploder podcast)? Most straightforwardly I wonder where you find some of the samples – I guess just listening to everything ever recorded. But I also just wonder about your process of putting the beats and instrumentals and everything together. It seems like most songs have some verses with the same tune and a chorus sprinkled in a few times, but your stuff follows an arc. Do you have any idea where a track is going from the start, or do you just kind of follow the inspiration?
I’ve explained my process on here a few times but I’ve never broken it down in an interview. It’s a long process though so that would take a while. I can short hand it here though.
I make a bunch of beats. I don’t sit down and make songs off the bat. I more just try and accumulate as many beats as I can. The process of how I make those beats is basically me sitting down going through songs to sample. I have an organized catalogue of samples on my computer. They’re organized by instrument(s) so i can scroll through that play list and be like “hmm…I need a guitar here…let’s see what i have”. It’s all very trial and error. I tend to start with a sample that I just build off of. I might throw some percussion in there early but i generally do the drums last. After the main loops, after the bassline and after the additional layered samples. My finished beats tend to have many parts. Changes and all that. To be honest, they could mostly stand on their own as songs if I wanted them to but I try to expand beyond that one beat when making full songs.
So, once I’ve made a bunch of beats, various things can happen to them. A rapper might use them. i might make a remix with them. If i’m feeling like it’s time to make an album, then I collect all the beats I have that I could see working as a stand alone track and arrange them by BPM. The idea here is to find 2 or 3 beats that are close in bpm , work together tonally and make sense in how the mood strikes. That’s more trial and error. Some things work and some don’t. Once I’ve gotten 12-15 groups of tracks that could potentially work together, I start to pair them up. i see what parts of those separate beats work. Scrap some parts, maybe add something that’s missing. This is the beginning of a song for me. I just amass as much content per song as I can then start stripping away the unneeded parts. Once that’s done, it becomes an equation. How do I take these different beats and blend them together to make one song. I pretty much have to map out where the song will start, the middle and the end. I want that to move as fluidly as possible and, in a way, tell a story. At least on my last 3 albums, that’s been how i work on solo stuff. Earlier, i used a more predictable style of “verse/chorus/verse/chorus” with my songs. Music by Cavelight and downtown science were FAR more simplistic albums in every way. But from “The music scene” and on…this has been how I go about it. I can’t say I know exactly how a track is going to start or end when I begin it but I have an idea of how I want it to flow. But, in general, after the initial beats are made, my process is all about arranging and utilizing all the parts the best way I see fit.
BH, what is the most glorious part of being single again and having your place all to yourself?
Well..having my place to myself is amazing. As someone who thrives at “just chilling” it’s been wonderful. Another part is just the general freedom. Not having to have responsibilities outside your own is incredible. I realize this is totally selfish and I’m way too old to live like that but, fuck it, it’s my life. If you reach a point in your life where you find yourself doing things you’d rather not do, unless those things pay your bills, what’s the point? You’re gonna die one day and be like “Man…I wasted a lot of time on bullshit…”.
This is in no way disrespect to my ex, she’s great and we’re still friends, I’m speaking far more generally. Waking up and not having to worry about anyone but yourself is a very calming feelings. Cause, then, when you do have personal problems, you can focus in on them easily. Basically, the bachelor life is a selfish one but unless you’re really bout that coupled up life, it’s not a bad way to be.
Are you a fan of Record Store Day? Have you ever participated as a patron or an artist?
I think the idea is cool and it’s definitely fun that all those artists make special records for that day. Personally, I’ve never participated in either way. I’m not a big record collector anymore (as far as i was aware, this didn’t exist when i used to buy lots of records) so i don’t really pay it much mind. I also don’t have the hook up where i can just quickly press up a few hundred 7″ records out of nowhere. That takes time and organization. But, hey, who knows? Maybe one day.
You know those (creepy/extreme) pop-up ads that appear when you’re watching porn? Are you able to fully ignore them or do they ever turn you off what you’re streaming at that moment?
Dude…those fucking things are the worst. There’s a granny porn one that ruins my fucking day every time I see it. I can’t say they turn me off so much that I stop what I’m doing (I’m a man who finishes what i start) but they more just briefly wash me over with a feeling of disgust that goes away quickly. The worst ones are the dick growth pill ads cause you’re just literally looking at a pic of a meaty dong and nothing else. But, yeah, the people who make those ads and pop ups in general are terrible human beings.