Creative endeavours require a certain amount of planning.
From artwork, to marketing to release dates; a musician’s life can sometimes be more akin to a scheduler than an artist. But one beat maker has followed his own path and creative flow throughout his entire career. Fushou. has been building at his own pace since 2016. With a laid back sound that still packs a punch, he has created his own lane, his own way and the scene has taken notice. With a brand new personalised playlist of his work, curated by Spotify, recently released; we took the chance to get into the story behind the music with the man himself.
Let’s talk about your latest project, ‘revelation.’ It’s beautiful and fits in with your body of work brilliantly. All your projects sound like one big track. Is that a conscious decision or are they just simply batches of beats?
Thanks man Iappreciate that. So for me creating music has pretty much just been a learning process. Ever since I first started I’ve worked off creative waves. I would make beats for however long and then see how that batch turned out. That would lead to an entire project. Usually, the tracks sound similar because, you know, I’m experimenting with a similar sound or production method. Then my next project I might learn a little bit more in my production so I’ll practice that skill, and then put those beats out, you know? One after another I will have a creative wave, make beats for however long and then just put those things out.
So really it’s an extension on batches of beats?
Yeah. I never really planned out the album. I believe that’s a bad thing. I plan out releases, but I’m pretty much organic with the actual music. Whatever I’ve created, you know, I pretty much choose the best beats out of it and put those on the project. You talk to a lot of people and they have like hundreds of beats not being used. I’m kind of the opposite of that. I have like, maybe, like ten or twenty tracks that I’ve never put out or anything. But the majority of my stuff, I release. You can see the progression through the music, too. Like, you can tell in my earlier days I didn’t really know mixing too well or the drums would sound a little bit more robotic. As I progressed with better mixing, better percussion techniques and better sampling methods you can hear that progression running through. From my first project to my last.
I feel you. So you started making beats in 2016 right?
Yeah. January is when I picked up Ableton for the first time.
Okay. So what made you want to start making music?
Well I picked up Ableton and started from there. Growing up, me and my friend Ryan always had the dream of making music for ourselves, you know? But we never got to that point due to not having the money to buy any equipment or anything like that. We were deep into music, real heavy into it. Stuff like MF Doom, early Stones Throw, Madlib, J Dilla, Slum Village, you know, people like that. It was always in my head and then when I started working I had more money so these thoughts came up again. But yeah I started in January and I just dove right into it.
You touched on a couple influences there but who is inspiring you right now?
So I’ll just tell you my three favourite producers right now. Number one is Iman Omari. I just love his Hip-Hop take on beats, especially the stuff he’s putting out with that rapper Cavalier. I think it’s just top notch. Number two, long-time favourite, is Dibia$e. He’s way up there for me. I dig everything about his production style. And then number three is Senojem. The past year I’ve just been really digging his music. But besides that, I mean, there’s a whole bunch of people that I really vibe with. My homie b0nds that I made the High Noon tape with. The Deli, emune, all the Always Proper crew. Radio Wavs, [ocean jams]. Just a whole bunch of homies.
That collaboration you did with b0nds is one of my favourite projects. How did that specific collaboration come about?
Usually when I do collab tapes like that, I’m a fan of the person beforehand, you know? I’m big on connecting with people that I like, to people’s music that I like. So I hit up him up and then we just talked. We got cool like that and then decided to do an album together. I would send him drum samples. He would send things back and vice versa. That’s how it came together. At first, we’re just planning on releasing it ourselves, but then we had the idea of doing cassettes. So we ended up going to Blvnt Records with it and then they liked it, so ended up releasing it.
What makes collaborations so attractive or special for you?
I don’t know. Sometimes it just helps with the creative wave. Starting 2018, I’ve been kind of slack on solo releases due to work and other stuff going on. But those collab tapes that I’ve been putting out with my homies pretty much helped me get in the creative wave. It’s just helped with my creativity. I try not to go in to it overthinking or with a preconception though. I just go in thinking of making music with a friend, you know?
Yeah I feel you. It’s almost like you got to know the person through the music before you start vibing on a personal level.
Yeah that’s pretty much it. With collabs I feed off the other person’s energy and it’s kind of hard to do that through the Internet when you’re not friends with somebody. Like, you know, random people hit you up, say ‘I like your music, let’s collab’ and I don’t even get to know the person. I usually prefer doing collabs like that in person because you can vibe off their energies more.
When you make beats do you have a process that you like to follow?
Yeah I just jump right into it, you know, to see if I can catch a feeling or whatever. So I usually start with drums first. I find it hard to chop up samples and lay a little loop without drums. So I’ll usually start with drums first. I will make a drum loop and then mess with the sample. I’ve been lazy digging through actual records recently, so I’ve just been using YouTube like a lot of people.
I mean that’s the beauty of the Internet. Anything can be a sample now. It’s kind of amazing.
Exactly and with lo-fi stuff, it’s already going to sound a little dirty, so it doesn’t really matter that much about the sound quality. But yeah I just look up random stuff, go through Vinyl Frontier because, you know, Vinyl Frontier is a big household name for samples, and then just records in general. I find some samples I like. I download a few and then just put them in Ableton. Next I chop them up, and then, you know, see what works.
You also use a lot of Rap a capella in your tracks. How influential has Rap itself has been to your music?
I mean, that’s pretty much the biggest thing to me because that’s a lot of what I listen to. Even though, I fall more on the beat side, the lyrics has always been the driving force of a lot of Hip-Hop songs. I was listening to classic Hip-Hop and Rap before I got into the whole beat scene. I got into the beat scene, probably, like late 2014, but before then me and my homie Ryan had been listening to, like, Cannibal Ox, Method Man & Redman, Wu-Tang Clan, ever since we linked up in the late 90s or so.
So Rap was pretty much you’re gateway into the world of Hip Hop?
Yeah pretty much and then as I developed my mind in Hip-Hop more, I started separating the two a little bit. Like I’d think ‘Man, that’s a nice beat. I like that.’ Then I’ll look up who the producer is and then go into their instrumental work. I was listening to Pete Rock & CL Smooth for the longest and I didn’t really know that Pete Rock was making actual beats and beat tapes for example. So once I developed my musical palette, I got into who was actually doing these things.
Do you think that gives your music a kind of edge?
Yeah I would say so for a lot of stuff, because a lot of beats I hear now (if it’s not a full-blown a cappella over a beat) it’s usually just the beat itself and no other words on it. There are a few dudes out there that put a cappella in. I know emune is one for sure, my dude ntourage and a few others do little vocal cuts like I do. Other than that I don’t really hear too much of it.
You’re originally from NYC, but you’re living in Texas now, right?
Yeah in the Dallas area.
How do you think those places have affected your sound?
Well, you know, NYC is the birthplace of Hip-Hop so I’ve always been in that mode. The early 90s and 2000's NYC stuff is probably my favourite era of Hip-Hop. Even though they were saying similar stuff that rappers are saying now, they actually put a bit more into it. It was a little bit more conscious and they spoke on what they going through a little more. Today I think certain people are just being flashy with whatever they got going on. Also I just prefer those older, grungy beats to the new age stuff where everything is clean and perfect.
How do you think Texas has influenced you in terms of beats?
Well I’ve been here for coming up on eight years now. When I first got down here in 2010 I wasn’t really into making music. I was real heavy into music though and I’d put my homies on new stuff. They would come over just to hear different music. Once I got out of school and started diving into the whole beat scene, I found out about Always Proper who’s in Texas. Before it split, they had The Deli, Lungfulls, memory, Leaf Beach; you know a whole bunch of those guys. They’re all based in Texas. That was the type of music that I wanted to dive into, you know? That nice, jazzy sound, like you would hear back in the days. So yeah there is definitely a big influence from Texas in everything that I’m doing now. Houston & Austin has also got growing beat scene as well.
Do you think that the South, generally, is having some kind of beats renaissance at the moment? Do you think that there’s something going on down there or do you think the Internet has opened things up a bit more? What’s your perspective on the new South beat scene?
I think it’s just the Internet honestly, because before you might not be able to even get a hold of music from other places, you know? A lot of stuff would just be hidden just because people didn’t have the access. Nowadays everybody has access to music from anywhere on the planet. I feel like there’s always been a love for that boom bap style though. Even though the music that makes a specific area well known might be totally different, there’s always been that general love for the sound. People, you know, dive into it and it becomes a part of them. So I feel like it’s always been here, just the Internet has opened it out more.
Yeah if you’re passionate fan of a certain music, you can connect with likeminded people and the scene in an instant now.
Yeah, pretty much. I hear it all the time. Like, in Taiwan, I had a homie that went over there and he would never have thought there was a whole bunch of kids just buying old samplers and making Hip-Hop. Before no one else apart from Taiwanese fans would hear it, but now I know this one dude named Conehead that I really like. He makes lo-fi type stuff. So there’s a whole bunch of kids just like this who can put stuff out there, when they couldn’t before.
Let’s talk about the ‘This Is Fushou.’ Spotify playlist. It’s a massive achievement and a really great look for whole beat community. How did it come about?
I honestly don’t even know the whole story with it because you know; I’ve just recently started putting music out through Spotify in the past year or so. I really have no contact with anybody from Spotify at all. There’s one curator that follows me on my social media but other than that, that whole ‘This Is Fushou.’ playlist just came as a surprise. I was just on Spotify one day and then went to check out some stuff, and underneath my artist profile, I saw it and was like ‘hold up, what’s this?’ I saw it was from Spotify but no word from them or anything.
That’s crazy. How do you feel about it?
It’s definitely dope because I got friends that have been killing it on Spotify with no playlist page of their own, so have an entire playlist of my stuff is crazy. I wonder what makes me special for it to be created but regardless of that, you know, it’s pretty dope to have one. I just hope to get my followers up on it and have more people check it out haha.
Do you think that Spotify is helping to usher in a new age for beat makers and producers?
Yeah for sure. Just based on the way I seen some of my friends come up on Spotify and how my Spotify experience has been. I still feel like Soundcloud is the basis of it though. That’s still how more people notice you and your different affiliations. Like, ever since I joined Always Proper and Radio wavs, it seems like a lot more stuff has been going on and that’s due to Soundcloud.
Sure so it’s like you cut your teeth on Soundcloud, and then when you’re ready to take it to the next level you start working on Spotify?
Yeah, pretty much. It’s like you build up your name a little bit through Soundcloud and then with Spotify they offer to pay you for the streams you get, which is a big plus. I know a lot of dudes, you know, not saying they broke or anything like that, but, you know, a lot of people get into tough times where they need just a little bit of extra money and they’re spending all this time making music so it makes sense. It’s definitely a help from that perspective. It lets producers actually be able to eat from their hobby or career.
Do you think that that kind of monetary incentive is going to be good for the beat community or do you think it’s going to have a negative effect?
I believe it could have both honestly, because the people who have been making consistently creative music and not just falling into making basic beats, deserve some type of monetary recognition. They help out a whole bunch of labels; they help out other artists and fans through tough times, casual chilling or even inspiration. So, you know, it’s good to see that money to go to those guys. But then you get other people who are just out for the short term. Like you see how it is sometimes with Trap. People with little to no talent just want to get into it for the recognition and the money. You’re obviously going to get those guys in any group but I think the beat scene has a good ear for what’s real or fake. At the end of the day, you know, it’s the fans listening that are really going to determine the success of any given song.
Where do you see beat culture going next?
Hopefully it gets more prolific and you can hear it around more. I mean it’s always been there, and I feel like it’s going to gain more traction. Like Chillhop are pretty much known worldwide now. More and more you hear music from them being featured in media, especially on YouTube. A lot of people do these YouTube vlogs with hundreds of thousands of plays and you hear Chillhop music in the back. Even Will Smith featured Chillhop stuff on his IG! If Will Smith is listening to it, you know it’s getting pretty big! I don’t know how that’s going to turn out for dudes like me and people that make sample-based music given Chillhop wants to move in a slightly different direction, but overall the culture is growing.
What’s on the horizon for fushou.?
I’m getting a collab tape done pretty soon with Senojem, that dude I was telling you about earlier. Also going to do more Black Leaf music with my homie Jiyu Purp. Trying to broadcast some more of that. Then I definitely want to start getting on my solo projects more. So, very soon, I’m going to start diving in and making more beats. Probably more along the lines of my ‘organics.’ tape. I guess you could call it that dirty soul hop. I’m going to be doing way more original music too because I had some opportunities open up in that realm. I’ll be getting into more music theory, learning chords, probably buy me a bigger keyboard and, you know, try to get nice with that.
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