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The Crackle: $txn.x and The Art of Freestyle Production

We sit down with the up and coming NYC beat maker

2nd Nov 2018 / 18 shares

Freestyle expression is somewhat a lost art these days.

The risks of just letting creativity flow are massive in the landscape of social media and instant scrutiny but at it’s best improvised expression can expose an artist at their most truthful, unrestricted and free. The philosophy is sound if seldom dedicated to. However $txn.x is one such artist who lets the wave just roll. Hailing from NYC, this producer has fully immersed himself to off the cuff creation. With a gritty, rough sound which still has a warm heart, $txn.x has proven himself a stalwart of the beat community. Fresh off a flurry of releases we sit down with the up and coming New Yorker.

So let’s start off by talking about the two latest projects you dropped. The most recent one was the ‘Wave Control EP’, which was a massive surprise, but a welcome one. It’s got that crusty, glitchy sound that you’re really known for.

Yes!

How did this project come together?

Well, you know, I’m just now getting more comfortable with my sampler and stuff. I’ve been practising a whole lot, just a whole lot, trying to figure it out. Trying to master and get real comfortable with the sampler, man. So, you know, I had a batch of beats just sitting there and I was thinking to myself, you know, let me just showcase my newer 404 sounds. I dropped the ‘Elation’ tape beforehand and that was a batch of my first sampler beats. They were pretty good, but I felt like I had a little bit more to show.

Sure.

So I put together the ‘Wave Control EP’. I hit up Ocean Jam (who runs radio.wavs) and was like, ‘Hey, I’ve got a project. I feel like it would go good with you guys.’ He checked it out. He loved it and gave me a little release date. That’s how it came about, man. Shout-out to Ocean Jam, man. He’s a cool dude. I’ve been following Ocean Jam for a couple of months now, like I check out his stuff, I check out the radio.wavs gang. Everybody releases music there and, you know, I’ve always liked the dude, I’ve always liked the music he puts out. Just everything about what’s going on over there, I felt like I need to be a part of that.

So moving on to ‘Elation’, can you go into a little bit more detail about the creation process there?

All right. So for the ‘Elation’ tape, that was mainly an album to showcase my first batch of 404 beats. They were actually the first eight beats I made on the 404.

Oh, wow, okay!

Yeah! It was the first eight I crafted that I was satisfied with. As soon as I got my sampler, I’m like, all right, I want to make a tape right there and then. It was my first so I had get this sounding, right. To my surprise, I got confident with it quick. So I’m like, all right, I’ll make these beats and I’ll put them in sequence so it’s listenable, so you can listen straight through. It just won’t sound like a random clutter of beats. So I’ve hashed a few ideas out and I came up with these eight beats and I put them, as you can hear, from ‘Sandman’ to ‘Flourish’, to ‘Sunday Vibe’ etc. Every beat’s got it’s own little bounce and it’s own little vibe to it.

So it was the first eight, but they were all kind of individual tracks with their own individual energy that somehow fit together?

Yeah. The way I track them together, I’m like, all right, I have these beats, they sound very different; how can I put them together to where a listener can listen straight through and won’t be thrown off the vibe? It’s a process but it works.

Why is the project called ‘Elation’?

So elation is like another word for a blissful feeling, like a happy feeling. So I saw the album as building elation. Like a transition into an elated feeling. Like a smooth, quiet sound. As you get midway through, the sound gets much brighter; it gives more of a feeling of a smile growing you know?

That makes sense. It feels like a comfortable elation, you know what I mean? Like that kind of satisfaction.

Exactly, yes.

So when ‘Elation’ came out you posted about having an avalanche or releases coming. Why now?

Honestly, the drive, man, the hunger, just me being motivated. Listening and seeing my friends doing a whole lot, just talking to a lot of my friends, just a lot of inspiration swimming around right now, you know? January is when I first really started getting into this community. I’ve been making music for about seven years now but this year I got my social media up, I started putting my beats on the internet and it wasn’t until the Summer that I really started getting motivated by music. Like I really started seeing results. It just made sense to me, everything started making sense. It’s like, I’m not just doing this for no reason; I’m building more of a passion towards it. I’m ready to do this for real.

Like you got some fire in your belly?

Yeah, I just built up this drive, man. Just listening to music, other people’s beats all day, every day.Ideas just came flying at me, man. Every time I get an idea to make a beat, it’s just like instant. Next thing you know, you’re just stacked with all these beats, so I wanted to make sense out of them. Put them in a project.

How do you approach production? Take me through from the initial idea to the final product.

Okay. Honestly, I just let my brain run wild. I search YouTube for samples and I find what I like. I’ll listen to the song at least twice, so I can really get the feel in my head. Then I’ll pick a section I like and I’ll sample that. I’ll chop it up, I’ll retune it, I’ll change the tempo, the pitch. Beforehand, I have no idea how it’s going to sound. This is all freehand, all free-thinking. Whatever sounds good to me, I go with. I find a tempo I like, I find a pitch I like, I find the parts of the song I like and I chop them up. I only have 12 pads on my sampler, but I use like 11 different chops. Then I’ll just try different rhythms, man, just try out a whole bunch of different stuff. I’ll repeat things over and over again. I do things so freely that I don’t remember what I do. It’s like I’ll have a certain set of chops that I’ll put into a loop. If I don’t like the loop, I could never redo it, because like its only in that configuration one time.So the thought is just really random and free.

It sort of flows out like a rapper freestyling? It’s kind of like a freestyle production?

Yeah, exactly, freestyle production. It’s like most of the things I do, I can’t repeat. I hear a beat I made, and it’s like, damn, how did I do that?

I’ve noticed you use a lot of different effects drops and variations in your beats too. Do you apply that freestyle philosophy to those elements too?

Yeah. Most definitely. It all comes from the same place, man. This all comes from the same random mind-frame, just whatever sounds dope, whatever I think sounds good to me, whatever I think fits well in my ears, man. I just try to make music that I would like to hear.

I think that comes across strongly. One word I’d use to describe your music is proud or confident?

Yeah man just confidence and standing by what you create. Make the beat, keep your chin up and be proud!

Who would you say has influenced you the most musically?

A lot of people out there man haha.

This is a tough one, I know haha.

Yeah because I don’t want to leave anybody out! I’m just going to go with straightforward, off the top people I’ve been listening to for years, man. Dudes like DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Q-Tip. Guys like that, man. I listen to their beats and the drums is what really inspires me. The heaviness of the drums is dope. Guys like Lord Finesse, their drum patterns are just so in your face. They’re loud, they’re banging and they swing. The snares are just dirty as hell. The kicks are really thumping. The hi-hats just make no sense. I love beats like that, man.

Who are you rating coming up now?

Oh, man, Swum got to be one of my biggest inspirations in this community. That’s one of the first dudes I started listening to when I got hit by Lo-Fi Hip-Hop. Even to this day when I’m outside, minding my business, there’s a Swum piece playing in my headphones anywhere I go. That dude’s beats, man! I’ve studied him and he follows me on Twitter. You know, we follow each other. I interact with him. It’s really a cool feeling, man!

He’s quite different in the scene, in that he’s unafraid to voice his opinion. Whether it be musically or on certain issues.

Exactly. I think that whole like mindset… Like, you know, because he’s from New York, I’m from New York, and it’s kind of like a New York thing. We really take pride in what we do, a whole lot.

Yeah I feel you. Would you say New York influences you a-lot?

Oh, most definitely, man. Even when I’m just walking outside. I have my music in my ears, I’m walking, I’m imagining beats in my head as I go. Especially around this time of year. When it’s cold, the sky’s grey, you know what I’m saying? It’s Fall-time, the leaves are coming down; it’s more of like a chill, cool time in the city. I get inspired just on a train, man, being on a bus, walking through the streets, just hanging out with friends. It motivates me to make a soundtrack for that. I try to make beats that will go with my life. Like they are a soundtrack to the things I do.

What are your thoughts on the New York beat scene?

Our beats kind of portray our scenery and our upbringing in my opinion. Like the dirt, the grittiness, just the aggressiveness. It’s deep in the power of the beats. You can see that in a lot of people here, you can see that in a lot of things around here, like the grittiness. You hear the beats and then you’re like, damn, who made that? You see who made it, you see where he’s from, and it all makes sense.

Yeah I feel you. I think NY beats are definitely gritty but they also have a lot of warmth? Like it almost feels like an invitation to come an experience the city musically?

Yes, most definitely, exactly. It’s like, ‘hey, come check out our world; this is what we’re doing over here.’ If you like it, we’ve got more for you.

Earlier this year you started a partnership with Dust Collectors and they’ve been doing huge things in the community. How did that relationship come about?

All right, so this goes way back to January. I met Bretsil on Instagram. So I was posting a few things, just getting the feel of being active on social media, seeing what it’s like, trying to find a community to be a part of. Bretsil messaged me and from day one, he’s been positive. Nothing but nice. So he was like ‘Yo, man, I like what you do. I’m part of this collective. We’re not that big, but I feel like you’d be a perfect part of it.’ I didn’t really understand it at first. I just knew that he made music, he’s down with other people that make music so like why not? I joined them and it wasn’t really until, I’d say, April when I really started being active with them, like just really started getting the ball rolling with them. Bretsil decided to open up the Seasonal Sounds Spring tape with my beat and ever since then, man, like he’s been showing nothing but love. He’s been helping me a-lot. I always go to him for advice. I’m always asking him for stuff, like, ‘Yo, man, what do you think about this, what do you think about that?’ It’s crazy, man, because he’s what, like 17? I approach him as if he’s my age or older. I really look to him like a zen master haha.

What is it about Dust Collectors makes them so attractive to producers?

It’s a real movement you know? It’s being run really well by Bretsil and the other managers, man. He’s a man of his word. If he says he’s going to do something, he’s going to try his best to do it. I mean nine times out of ten, he gets it done, and people see that. They see that he’s down for the producer, he’s down for the artist, he’s really down for you. I mean, he’s ready to work with you, man. He’s not going to lie to you; he’s going to give you an honest opinion. I think people who are honest and real like that are so beneficial.

The whole community has really come into its own through collectives. Why are they so so important?

You know, that’s a good question. I’m glad you asked that because people ask me all the time like, ‘Hey, Stan, what do you think I should do as far as taking my music to the next level? Like what should I do with my music?’ I always tell people, man, the first thing you want to do is join a community. Get to talking to people, be a part of something, be part of a group. Take an active role in group chats, forums; like really get involved with other people that know more than you. That’s how you can learn. Take the opportunity to learn from one another. I see collectives as a chance to learn, a chance to help one another. Like you know what I’m saying? More hands… It’s just better than two.

Yeah, exactly. Many hands make light work, kind of thing.

Exactly! Everyone’s helping the next person build, everyone has the same end goal. That’s the best part: everyone has the same goal, just making music, putting out music. Trying to make a living off of it, man. Collectives are the perfect way to get in the habit of team building. Just socialising, seeing how things work, learning how things go. It’s perfect. Collectives are the number one thing people should be focused on right now. Just being a big part of a community is the number one thing.

What can we look forward from you in the future? What’s up next from $txn.x?

All right, for Halloween, I’ve dropped another EP called ‘Luna’. In November, my collective tape is dropping (we got like 20 producers on there now!) For December, I’ve got a little, special surprise for everybody.

Oh, nice! So we’re going to wait for that one before we get more details!

This one’s going to be special. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s very different. People are not going to expect this one!


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Listen to ‘Elation’ here:


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