Music is about progression.
In that regard you can draw many parallels with video games. Artists and Gamers are constantly trying to reach the next stage or level. Both fields involve learning, experimenting and taking risks. In order to progress you have to leave your comfort zone. One producer who has embodied this philosophy across his career is Metanite. This young Louisianan has been in the game for a long time. Creating honest, exciting and evolving music. With the recent releases of two projects that mark a shift in his career, we took the chance to speak with Metanite about his art and what’s coming in the future.
Let’s start with was your latest project, ‘The Darkstalkers EP’. What can you tell us about that? I know it’s an ode to one of your favourite fighting games.
Well, it was a project that I worked on probably, two or three years ago? It was really influenced by the music from the video game. I played Darkstalkers 3 when I was probably 17 or 18. I really liked the eerie horror style of it. Then there’s a guy I know, his name is Yuki and we worked on a 2nd Impact/Darkstalkers beat tape and it never really took off. So later, probably two years later, I talked with this guy and he asked me about a project and I said I wanted to do a Darkstalkers project. I never really finished it though. I put out, like, three or four tracks, but I never really finished it. Then I saw the cover art again and I was, like, maybe I can revive this. So, with that I was just pushing to finish it. I made brand new beats but there’s also older ones that I just re-amped and made sound a little bit cleaner. That’s how it came about.
Generally you’re quite a big video game fan, but specifically fighting games are your thing. Do you think there’s a link between these sorts of games and beats?
I think there’s a big link between fighting games and Hip-Hop. A lot of the older video games (especially Street Fighter III) feature a lot of Hip-Hop music heavily. The Street Fighter series as a whole is, like, big on Hip-Hop. Not only Street Fighter but Mortal Kombat, King of Fighters etc. The whole USA team on those games brought a more Hip-Hop oriented style to the games. Also a lot of producers I know, like Kid Sugoi, Knxwledge are into these things. I just saw Knowledge in a Street Fighter V stream thing recently, for example.
Who’s better at fighting games though? Knxwledge or Metanite? That’s the question haha.
Haha I don’t know man. I’ll have to play him one time. But, yeah, fighting games or just video games in general revolve around a lot of music. It’s in the execution too. Like making music by pushing pads and then playing games with buttons. It’s almost the same thing. Its timing, it’s precise timing.
How would you say video games generally influence your music?
It influences my music heavily because I’m one of the few people I know who would probably straight out jam the whole Sonic the Hedgehog soundtrack (for example) from front to back. The sound of games and how they’re produced, really shows how much they can get into your ear. That rhythm, that repetition, going back and forth. It’s just gets stuck in your ear. You hear it every time in game, but you enjoy it almost every time you hear it. Or sometimes you get annoyed with it because you can’t progress to the next level haha.
So let’s talk about the project before ‘Darkstalkers’, which was ‘Ride in the Mind’. It’s a collection of old and new material across your career. Why was now the right time to drop this sort of project?
I don’t know. I guess I felt like I was behind on a lot of projects and that one kept coming into my mind. Like I kept thinking I should definitely finish this and there was already an album cover for it, so I should definitely finish this album. There’s no more procrastinating. I play fighting games, I play video games a lot, so it’s time for me to actually put in a lot more work into music. I’m not in the same place I was before, so I now need to be more consistent with my releases.
I feel you. So, you just felt like it was a good way to mark the beginning of this period?
You have a massive catalogue. How do you keep up the momentum?
I think you’ve got to push yourself. You’ve got to get experimental. It’s not like beat block or writer’s block is forever. The more you relax, take your time, be patient, open up your mind to a lot of newer stuff; the less blocks will affect you. Like when I was younger, I was a straight, ‘Oh forget this, I’m old school Hip-Hop, whatever, etc’. I’m more open to different kinds of music now. It helps with the thought process and sometimes listening to others may give you an influence. I mean, I’m not saying you should be a clone of somebody, no. I’m saying you could be inspired by them. Like, Tek.Lun, he makes almost everything.
YeahI feel you.
He’s easily one of my favourite people to listen to because he’s opened up a huge box of things. I mean I don’t know if you’d say perfected them, but he’s definitely on a pretty high field when it comes to his Hip-Hop beats. He also makes Rap, he makes House, he makes EDM. He pretty much makes it all. So, I’m trying to get to that level of being able to make anything, with no excuses. You’ve got to stop putting yourself into a hole full of these excuses of why you can’t make anything. You’ve got to push yourself more.
You’ve been in this scene for quite a long time and it’s changed quite a lot in that time. What’s the biggest change you have seen?
Well, when I started making beats I didn’t know what Lo-Fi was. I didn’t know Lo-Fi was the trend back in 2011/2012. I just made beats. I wanted to make something easier and smoother and just created, so even the term is a big change. Also now there’s a lot more indie labels and blogs now. I mean, they were there back then too, but I wasn’t as aware of them. So, I’m actually, kind of, happy there’s a lot more to ways to distribute yourself through the internet now. I didn’t know about the Repost Network or stuff like that for example. Or at least I knew about it, but I didn’t know about it until, like a year after I got accepted to it.
So, you think that generally the Internet’s opened it up a little bit more so that this kind of music is easier to find an audience these days? Because of the variety of options listeners have?
Uh-huh, I really think so. There’s a few people I know who have probably over 10,000 followers on Spotify, getting money. I’m trying to get there. It’s a slow walk, but we’re making progress. I really have a way to distribute my music everywhere now. So it’s not just on Bandcamp. Like, people love Bandcamp, but I don’t think everybody knows my where stuff is, or how to get it.
So, when you’re making beats do you have a process?
Good question. I guess if something hits the brain or if I hear something on the radio, like one of the old school jams, I’m just like ‘Okay, maybe I can do something with that.’ When I get into it, it’s like, do I want to make this off beat? Or do I want to make this a really swinging kind of a beat? Normally I just straight chop it up and try to figure out what I can do with the drum loop. I’m a big drums guy. I really like drums when it comes to making my beats. Like, everybody will tell me, ‘Oh those drums are sick, why you don’t have a drum kit yet?’ haha. So basically I set the drums, then the melody and I kind of, fluctuate between ideas so I can get a nice set of chops. Then I just smoothen in out and I think that’s pretty much it.
So, the focus is really on the drums?
Yeah, it’s definitely focussed on the drums.
That’s quite interesting because a lot of people do the sample first and the drums come afterwards. I think it comes through in the music because your drums do really knock. I mean, I’m not going to lie, I’d love to see a Metanite drum kit at some point haha.
Haha everybody wants it man.
When you’re picking a sample is there go-to sound you look for or a specific element?
It’s really got to catch my ear. If I really enjoy the song a lot, I think I can do something with it. It’s always a mystery with me, because I don’t really go for anything specifically. I used to do that a lot though. I used to just go straight for Brazilian samples or video game samples but I kind of, opened my horizons bit more. Once could I see I could flip anything, no matter what it was, the more I started opening up. I mean, I’ve done a Gospel sample, I’ve done 90s R&B, I’ve done House music. I’ve sampled a lot of stuff. There’s just so much. There’s so much music out there and it’s endless so you can get inspiration from pretty much anywhere.
Musically, who would you say some of your biggest influences are?
Okay, so this is going to be a crazy one, because when I started my influences were probably more well known producers. So, it was like Flying Lotus, DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Lord Finesse, K-Def, those kind of guys. They put a lot of good music out that influences me now as I move on into my own sound. Oh also let me not forget (since these two are very important to why I make beats right now) NegroSaki and Fletch. He went as J Fletch at first, but he’s now just straight Fletch. He’s really tight. He’s the reason why I make beats now.
So, that’s kind of like, the foundation of how you came into it?
Yes, mm-hm. Dibia$e is also definitely one of my favourites of all time, I’m heavily influenced by him. Oh No, you know, Madlib’s younger brother? He’s definitely sick. Also, I just mentioned him, but Tek.Lun is another big influence.
In terms of your contemporaries, who are you enjoying musically right now?
There is a guy I know, his name JTBS and he’s really dope. I want to say a few of my friends. There’s one I guy know, Aqua the Abstract. Very diverse guy, I’m good friends with him, he’s really cool. Also my friend Xtrememusik, he’s multi-talented. He makes everything from Ambient to Lo-Fi to Trip-Hop. Very talented individual. Just X, he’s another diverse character. I think he’s really tight. There’s another guy I collab with, his name’s Certified Official, another great talented cat.
Are these all people that you know personally in your life or is it internet connections?
Do you think internet collaboration has changed the way the music sounds?
Collaborations online are crazy. I mean, it changes a lot because now people can work together like they were a next door neighbours. But it’s a trip, because we’re getting out there to collaborate with others and they could be anywhere. It’s a little bit hectic because you know timezones etc will be different. Like it could be the evening over here and somebody else could be dead ass in the morning haha. So, you know, it’s crazy. I think the possibilities are endless.
You live in Louisiana. Do you think that has influenced your sound?
I think it has. I played the trombone in my middle school years and I already had two cousins who rapped, like, almost every time I saw them. It’s crazy, because my family is so sports oriented, so I did sports but I also did music. I did sports, I did music, I did art, I did a lot. So, sports was kind of my thing. I still enjoy watching it, like if it’s on I watch it, but music probably took over during one time I was really under some depression. I was in a depression period. I usually have those but that year I needed something to help break away and music was definitely the way. So, I went from learning the trombone to playing a bit of piano and from that I got influenced by everything around me in Lousiana. The biggest celebrity, like producer-wise, round here was Mannie Fresh and Beats by the Pound. Pretty much everybody from the Beats by the Pound crew.
What can we look forward to from you in 2019?
I think people should really be excited for ‘Metadays for Metanites’, I’m trying to push that. It’s going to be the next tape. I really hope everyone enjoys this next one I’m about to release. It’s a lot more laid back, it’s not as crazy ‘Darkstalkers', but it’s definitely a lot more laid back. It, kind of, brings back a bit of my older work, which is good. So, you’re going to get a bit of that new Metanite versus the old Metanite.
Are you thinking about doing any physicals this year?
I’m going to try to. I’m going to try to get stuff on tape. Especially ‘Metadays for Metanites’. I’m talking to a friend of mine, we’re trying to get it together.
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