Music has the power to transport
Whether it’s a specific time and place, or something wholly more ethereal, some of our best musical moments come when we shut out reality and transmute whatever scenario we may be in. The power of music to transport the listener should never be underestimated and one producer who had fully embraced its power is Radicule. Coming out of New York, this up and coming beatmaker has honed his craft on a foundation of feeling, experimentation and true love of the music. On top of that he maintains a staunchly positive and progressive role in the scene at large. With some exciting upcoming projects on the horizon we took some time to chat with the one and only Radicule.
So the first kind of thing that stands out to me about your music is the variety and diversity in sound across your albums. When you go into creating a project is there an idea of what sort of vibe you want to create?
For sure, definitely! Every project I release I definitely think of it as a different, like, portal into my own psyche, or my own kind of life. So whenever I go into creating a project I try to think of it as a kind of like an inter-generational story where each project has its own entity and its own universe, and you can transport to different realms through each one. However they are somehow all inter-connected because obviously you can hear, like, the influences that weave through multiple projects.
Do you find that balance of experimenting but also staying true difficult? I guess the wider question is how do you stay comfortable outside of a comfort zone? Do you know what I mean?
Yes, yes. I mean, you know – damn that's a good question. I would definitely say it mainly stems from all the different music that my parents would play, and even my brother would play for me when I was a kid. It’s funny because when I was growing up with my brother, Bruce, he would have everything from, like, Justin Timberlake to Lil Boosie and even Elton John. So it was totally a random spectrum of artists, but it was still this passion that was interwoven between all these different genres and I think that's what really helped me be comfortable in saying, you know, I can have, like, a Lo-Fi track and Boom Bap type track, and then right after that comes a more mellow kind of dance type song. So I think it’s just not being afraid to experiment and just understanding that, you know, we can kind of shape-shift and take whatever form we see fit.
I feel you butI have noticed a couple of things that I’d really say are Radicule stamps. Like I’d say a lot of your songs have got a very 80’s Funk/Soul source material kind of vibe to them. You know kind of like Rick James, Morris Day and the Time, that kind of thing.How does that sound manifest?
Oh yes. I think with most of my beats, and the fact that you kind of focused on that sort of 80’s kind of Soul sound as well, there was just something about that music that I think when I heard it (even as I got older) it just, like, cut through everything. It was just something that I feel once you heard it come on, or you heard that bass or that synth that really drove the track, like it instantly caught heads. Everybody would either turn around or, like, look up, and so I think that’s the attraction of it. Also the sort of the large nature of it that kind of attracted me and made me want to use it in my songs.
Another thing I’ve really noticed (and I would put you among the best in the scene with this) is your vocal samples. They are so diverse.
What makes a good vocal chop for you?
I think for me what make a good vocal chop is something that helps people blend reality with a dreamscape almost. When people hear certain vocal clips they’ll be, like, oh wow, that's from this anime, or this viral vine that went global or whatever. I think it’s giving people those little doses of reality inside of the beats to help them kind of cope throughout the day. You know, because reality can be hard, man. So, like, it’s kind of finding those joyous spots and putting that into the music, so there’s little gems, you know?
Yeah. Almost like an anchor while you're kind of creating these dreamscapes
Oh yeah, exactly! It’s something that – it’s like a pleasant tethering to reality, you know?
When you're creating how do you keep things fresh? How do you keep it exciting?
You know what, I think the way I found to keep it fresh was always looking at something new from across different mediums. It’s good to be immersed in the beats and it’s good to be immersed in the music, but sometimes, you know, I could be watching something that's totally out of left field for me and that can kind of inspire me and help to get the gears turning. So even just having different stimuli from different artistic mediums, from all different points on a spectrum; definitely helps me keep the gears turning.
So it’s like all art feeds your art?
Exactly. It’s kind of understanding when to take breaks and dive into something a little bit different, whilst knowing that inspiration will come back afterwards.
When you sit down to create what does the process look like for you? Do you have a set way of doing things, or do you need to be in a certain state of mind? What’s the sort of end-to-end creation process, if you have one?
You know what I’ve really started realising is that I have a way of starting that only some producers will understand, but I like to focus on the percussion first. Like, that’s the first thing I try to get down whenever I start a track. I have to get either the hats or even the little background effects right. Those have to be tuned first and then I start to really get into the bulk of the track.
That's really interesting. Have you kind of worked through or been able to pinpoint why that is?
Oh yeah! I think of it almost as these little sprinkled on mix-ins that kind of tickle the ear in a way. So I feel like if I can make even the smallest, little, minute detail on a track stand out to somebody; then I know how to formulate everything else. If I can just get that tiny, tiny little detail right.
I feel you. So we spoke a little minute ago your influences from your brother and your family, but I really want to dig into some of your major influences musically.
Oh, definitely! Oh man it’s crazy, because so many of my homies in the present are definitely inspirations and influences for me. So some of the greats like Ohbliv, Madlib, of course Dilla and Nujabes are obviously up there, but, you know, I’ve been finding that a lot of even people who I know or who have contact with inspire me a lot. Definitely the homies Nothing Neue, Coldpizza, clwdwlkr, Dweeb, G Mills, the entire In Plain Sight crew. All of these cats are people who I know personally, but they’re doing such amazing and incredible work that it definitely makes you want to step your game up too.
Sure, yeah I feel you. I mean in terms of people coming up now, I think it’s very cool everyone is so influenced by each other and has such access to their inspirations. Do you think as it all grows, it’ll remain this free? Or do you think it’s going to maybe close off a little bit?
What I'm hoping for is that it stays as free as it is, because I definitely feel like it just makes it a very different environment to anything else I’ve experienced, even in music. You can have this inspiration and influence through these artists, and you can also have these intimate connections with them. Like when you go to a show or an event but also online. I feel like it’s up to people who are curators and people of that nature as well, to continue that effort to keep it free and keep it open. I think it’s very easy to go into the music industry and have something monetised and then, you know, people feel like they lose that sense of connection with the artist.
I think it’s really great for people who are coming up, but also people who have been in the scene for a while and have never really found anywhere to have a voice.
Exactly, exactly. I think that's what a lot of it boils down to. People continuing the tradition of giving people a voice that otherwise felt they didn’t have one. You know what I mean? The reason I would want it to stay open is because I think all of us as producers have felt, at some point in our lives, like there’s no real home or place for us. And I feel with how it is now people are finding a home and people are finding that the music can not only be something that teleports to a higher level or helps them grow as a person, but it also helps us in terms of healing, togetherness and unifying for a common goal and good cause.
The scene can also be quite divisive though. However on socials and just generally you are a really positive force. Why do you think theres such divisiveness and how do you stay so positive through it all?
Definitely. I feel, like, with the way that – and by the way thank you. Thank you for even saying that, man, like, I really appreciate that. I just feed off of the energy y’all give me haha. But yeah I really feel like the reason there’s so much divisiveness in the scene is because there’s a lot of cats that see people getting play-listed and things of that nature and feel a little looked over. I think it’s people that probably have been in the game for a little while that feel, like ‘oh this dude came to the game, all he did was, like, a ukulele loop, and put some sad kick snare pattern over it, and then he’s blowing up.’ So I think there’s a lot of that. Some people feel like some artists are a lot simpler in terms of how they approach the craft and maybe they don't know the history behind the genre or the true innovators in the scene and they’re getting racks on racks. The way I kind of remain positive about it is just thinking, you know, they’re doing their thing, and you might feel that they are creating simple content, but the true ones are going to survive and outlast in terms of history. So that's why I'm not really too concerned with either the beef or divisiveness or anything like that because I just want to let the music speak. If you like my music, then perfect! We’re going to keep rocking and taking it to the next solar system, but if you don't like it, then maybe that's just not your cup of tea. So it is what it is. But I know the true ones are going to survive in the end.
What do you think needs to happen to elevate the music to the next stage? And how does that look for you?
I think the way to elevate it is continuing on the path of giving such high energy shows and this is why I have to give a shout out to In Plain Sight, because every show that I’ve been to from them they have put their all into every single set. Every performer that's come through has showed out and really tore things down, whilst providing an open atmosphere for people to dance, to laugh, to be themselves. So I think continuing on that path is definitely a start. I also think more importantly understanding the resources that we have, and really uplifting one another, you know? Like not necessarily relying on these sort of ‘corporate’ playlists because they don't necessarily represent the culture. Like they almost cherrypick what sounds nice and kind of soft to the ear, but I think it’s also about the real people in the trenches making the music and giving shine to other artists who are in the scene and creating those playlists or outlets and partnering with those venues to throw events that kind of uplift the culture.
I guess taking it offline a little bit. Obviously not taking it all offline, but kind of increasing the chances for people to connect in real life because that will elevate it all.
Definitely. I mean, it’s definitely cool to be able to go on to Spotify or a Lo-Fi forum and have that online community, but at the same time it’s just so surreal when you meet the people that you've been working with or the people who’ve supported you face-to-face. It really shows to your peers that you're real and you're here and you're actually doing this, but it also shows the fans that, they aren’t just regular customers or a consumers. Like, you actually identify with me and you actually embrace who I am. It creates that deeper bond of intimacy between you and the audience.
I agree and I saw that you came off that gig over last weekend which looked live. Can you tell us a little bit more about that?
Yeah that was crazy! It was In Plain Sight’s monthly show. So I believe they have a residency at Father Knows Best in Brooklyn every third Saturday of the month? It was really just such a loving environment. There’s two things that really stood out to me though. One was just the fact that the homie clwdwlkr came and I actually closed out my set with him performing one of our tracks together (Gewwdtymes). That was insane because it was the first time I ever linked up with him and he’s all the way from Virginia! So that was absolutely incredible. Then the second thing was I had friends who I work with that drove an hour plus out to come and actually see me perform. As soon as I was setting up and going on they were right in the front row. So that really just tipped everything over, and really just, you know, made it a transcendent event.
That sounds wicked! What’s your favourite part of being in front of an audience?
For me it’s the reactions I think. When I do my sets I try to make them like mini-movies. Most beat sets are, like, maybe like 30, 40, 45 minutes. So whenever I construct my set I try to add in little things that’s going to get a reaction. I'm, like, oh, let me add this sound in. This is probably going to make them laugh with this little skit, or then have it lead into a track that has this huge build up, or this big drop, and then it’s just seeing the reaction on people’s faces.
Does it influence your music when you're in the studio when you step off stage?
Oh definitely! In terms of when I experience a show and then leave with that feeling to go back to producing, I definitely look at how people lose themselves and how they feel comfortable. Also at how they feel open to express themselves and let everything go. Some people could be coming to the show off one of the worst days they ever had in their life and to see people have that opportunity to take a break from everything (and for us to be able to provide that sort of freedom) it’s a beautiful thing. I definitely feel like I try to take that back to the studio whenever I'm working on new beats or a new project or whatever.
How has New York influenced your beats? How would you say your environment has influenced your music?
Oh man, that's a beautiful question! So I grew up in the Bronx, in Co-Op City, until I was 14 then I moved up to this town called Brewster, which is like an hour north of the city. Now I’m older, it’s almost like I’ve started to produce from those two different mind-sets. So in the Bronx and in the city you know, you have your gritty moments, but you also have moments I would say are rich in terms of Black cultural significance. I was really growing up around all this a lot. A lot of it kind of creeps out through my music, you know? Like it’s reminiscent of the days of smoking in the staircase and trying to dodge the cops because someone called them because they smelled it. Or riding the bus and the six train down into the city with my brother and family. From there to where I live now, is a contrast. You don't have events that are easily accessible. You have to drive everywhere, you can’t really walk. So, you know, moving to an area where it’s more open and expansive you get a little bit more of a taste of nature and things like that. So I think my sound is combining the gritty kind of love/hate story that you have with New York City, with the like open and expansive elements of living in the suburbs of Brewster. So it’s kind of like a combo of that.
That's so interesting, because now that you've explained it I can totally hear it. That’s dope.
New York and New Jersey are really developing a strong scene now which is in such contrast to the prevailing media narrative that NY Hip Hop is dead. What do you think of the scene in New York?
I feel like the New York Beat Scene (and people might think I’m ballsy for saying this), has, in a way, helped to revive New York Hip Hop. Not only is it artists paying homage to all the artists that came before (whether it be through different flips or different remixes) but it’s also through the samples, the way that things are chopped etc. Even the way that things are filtered, EQ’d and mixed. It just has such a New York gritty yet beautiful sound to it. I think that the Beat Culture is definitely one of the main underlying driving forces for the resurgence of recognising New York in such a creative capacity.
What’s coming up for you this year?
Alright, so I got a beat on Futures Volume Six for the homies at Inner Ocean Records. All the homies are on that. It’s insane!
Isn’t it? That’s sick though.
Yeah of course man haha! I'm also working on a new album. I don't have a preferred title just yet, but I do have a lot of the tracks done. We have about 80% of that done already, and my homie is also doing the artwork. Shout out to Kimani! He’s also aligned with In Plain Sight; he’s like the house MC for the shows. But yeah, that project most likely will be dropped with Grape Records, so we’re going to have that coming for y’all soon!
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