Music would be nothing without connection.
Whether it’s meeting other musicians and or the ethereal bridge we build with an artist through their work, connection is a powerful force that takes many beautiful forms. Many producers attempt to forge these links but one who has wholeheartedly embraced the concept is 13PM. Coming out of Massachusetts, close to Boston, this inspiring beatmaker has made a name for himself with his cosmic but naturalistic music and activity in the wide beat community. With a packed first of 2019 under his belt we took the opportunity to chop it up with one of the scene’s most exciting artists.
So the first question I had was about ‘Decider’, your new single. What’s the story behind this single drop?
So it touched on two things that I always had as a personal musical mentality. One would be the Reggae/Ska connection. Ever since I was in high school, I played in a ska band. We were called High Line. One of my favourite aspects of the band was the fact that, okay, this was your standard rhythm set up, drums, bass, guitar, but then there’s this melodic section with just horns. So for Decider I found this horn sample and that's what I built this beat around. In the context of the personal mentality I have about Reggae and Ska music. It’s funny because people have personal issues against the genres. People hear the shittier radio Ska stuff more often than they’re going to hear the more introspective or deeper levels of the genre.
So back to what I was saying about the track, with ‘Decider’ it touches on a minimalism that I’ve always been pursuing musically. The bass line is spread out, and it’s crawling up just like a standard chord. I can say it’s like a very slow walk, and then just almost like a House-y like kick that just is constant.
In a lot of the stuff I’ve been doing previously, I liked having a lot of crazy little details and frills with my tracks. Like, at the end of four bars instead of having, like, a drum fill it’ll be an effect doing some weird thing to the audio itself. With this one I wanted to set this up as if you're in maybe a Jazz club or something like that, and then they just start breaking out into this Reggae jam. It’s almost like a slowed down dancehall vibe, a little bit.
Why did you decide to separate it from a project? What’s the rationale behind splitting it like that?
That's an interesting question because initially I released it on Bandcamp as a bonus track to the album (‘Sleeptalker’). But it’s funny, because when I put it on DistroKid I was like, I could add this to the album, but I think of it as an extension of the album rather than part of it, if that makes sense? Because ‘Sleeptalker’ was a whole experience of me just coming to terms with my blind spots as a person.
As corny as it sounds, as I get older (I’m going to be 27 this year) I think I have a little bit more willingness to put stuff out, and take things a little less seriously too. That was something that I had to deal with when putting out these full projects.
Let’s talk a little bit about that. You mentioned your blind spots. How did that factor into ‘Sleeptalker’? What’s the story there?
Yes, definitely! I actually chose the name ‘Sleeptalker because it’s actually something I do. Sometimes it’s almost every night, and my wife can attest to that. But it’s something that I wasn’t really aware of until my wife brought it up. That’s the spark that got me thinking about blind spots. Like rather than be shortfalls it’s just things other people know about me that I don’t recognise. It’s not necessarily a judgement as much as it's something I’ve dealt with or worked on, or had to get through myself.
Also knowing how to separate people talking shit from people being constructive, is really huge. If you're trying to become more aware as a person, it really is essential to seek out those blind spots a little bit, and it sounds weird and a little contradictory, but that's what I was doing musically. So I was getting into piano theory and some modal theory, stuff that I was interested in getting into when I was younger, which was leading me to get into some advanced stuff, but I never seriously pursued. So I took a little more time doing that with this project. Like looking into learning about different types of swing, and where instruments do better with swing, and certain instruments don’t do as well, and stuff like that, if that makes sense.
Yeah, I get you.
But it’s interesting because with this one, in the swing example specifically, I used to think that it was all about the kicks and the snares. But I actually found out I have an obsession with percussion. I made a post the other day as a joke, I was just like, ‘I'm a serious producer’ and then proceed to play an egg shaker into every single track I make But when people talk about groove and rhythm and they’re trying to get their kick and their snare set up, it’s like, if you just replace your hat with a shaker it could make a huge difference to the whole feel. So I just re-analysed the way I looked at making both music and my sound design process.
How large a role do you think gear plays in your beat creation process? Because I know you’re a fan! Do you find yourself getting a new piece of kit, or a new instrument, and that sparks new ideas? Or is it very much a process of working it into your existing set up?
Oh yeah! When I see that stuff, it’s a combination of ‘Yes, I want all these things. Damn, I need a better job so I can afford all these things.’ . But at the same time I sometimes think it’s overkill or unnecessary. It’s like a video game. Since I was young I have been a gamer and I think there’s a lot of the logic you can take from video games, and apply it to your life to make things a lot less scary and manageable. It’s my Millennial way of dealing with the world being as crazy as it is .
But in reality (when you think of life as a video game, and levelling up etc), unless you're using cheat codes, you're not going to start with a full flush studio with five Moog synths and MPC 2000XLs, and all that shit.
You should start off with a basic midi thing and you've got to be willing to suck at something to be good at it. If you're not willing to do that for at least two years with music, it’s rough. A lot of people don’t want to hear that, but if you want to do it on a serious level it’s essential.
Do you think that kind of video game philosophy has shaped your sound?
I’d say yes and no. I fell into the slight trap of buying an SP404 SX. But I use that thing! I'm not going to act like I don’t use it for a lot of stuff. I just don’t use it in the way a lot of people expect. Where it’s, ‘oh, if you're not doing the beat with the pads right now, so you're not using it right’ but the thing is gear is so fluid. You can use that thing as a pre-processor, I'll record shakers with the vinyl sim on it and then I'll record that into Ableton.
So I’ve got a vinyl crackle and a natural swing rhythm, and it sounds dope together because these are both high frequency things. I just gave away some of my sauce there, but it’s okay, because I think it’s not that much of a secret . But vinyl crackle is a similar frequency to the shaker, so I'll record that into Ableton and be able to chop it up and have a lot of control.
People put a lot of emphasis on the more vintage the gear is, the more challenging it is, and I think that's a really cool challenge. I'm wicked impressed by people who literally make entire albums by flipping vinyl because when I try to make beats doing that I get frustrated and I'll add other stuff to it and I'm just like, this doesn’t sound as good as the sample. I'll just delete, go back, delete, go back. I think I’ve made a few beats with sampling, but for the context of clearing samples, and not having to worry about that, and also just the challenge of making music, I prefer to create my own samples.
That's really interesting because your songs have a very sampled sound quality to them. What is your beat creation process generally?
For me, I like to start with the melody more often than not and when I say melody I mean everything that isn't drums, percussion, cymbals or the bassline. I like to do that just to get a feel. I find it easier to put drums down afterwards but it also depends on which direction I want to go with the song in the beginning. If I'm going to for a more Hip-Hop or bouncy feel, I’ve got to start with the drums first because the other stuff can actually detract from getting that bounce.
If you're trying to get that real funky, dirty stuff, like sometimes you've just got to start with an egg shaker, and then put some other percussion on that, and just build a percussion chunk. Then you can just find these grooves with the kick/snare and an occasional hat in between. It’s simple, but that's the formula that I use.
Do you see it as a kind of formula, or is it very much dependent on what your mood is that day?
It’s like a formula that has variations, If it makes sense, depending on how I start. I like to think of my frequency ranges when I'm creating. , both in a mixing sense as well as how each instrument complements each other . If I'm going to have a really soft bass, I want my keys to be more transient , and vice versa. I’m terrible at making them right now, because I use Serum but I'm trying to make those MNDSGN type basslines. They’re just like those cinematic retro chunky sounding basses. He’s fucking up there, man.
Yes, he’s like an alien in some regards . Talking of aliens and space, this is a good place to ask about the effects manipulation on ‘Sleeptalker’, and just generally in your work. You have a really tight feel to your effects manipulation and on ‘Sleeptalker’ you've really entered your own space with. How do you approach this? Because a lot of producers fall into overuse, especially with an SP etc.
It’s funny you ask it like that, because that's what they struggle with a little bit. That's why I actually don’t us the SP for a lot of these effects.
Oh wow, interesting.
So, I use Ableton 9 and I do have a few bought plug-ins that I love, but for the most part but I use mostly stock plug-ins for mixing. A lot of this cool sounds stuff especially, like frequency shifter is such an under-rated tool in Ableton. Do you use Ableton?
So you know the concept of grouping tracks?
So when you think about everything and frequency ranges and frequency chunks, you've got your top melodic stuff, so your chords, and then a high melody thing. And then maybe something slightly lower, and that's the top melodic chunk of the frequency. So I'll group all of that. Then for that classic Lo-Fi bounce I'll side-chain that group and throw the compressor on it. So this is where I break out my Ableton effects racks that I’ve been working on. I actually have one that's free on my website right now. So that's cool. But I'm going to start selling it for 10 bucks, probably, at the end of the month. But it’s all stock plug-ins, and the idea is that it’s like a Faux SP404.
There’s no vinyl simulation on it, and I did that on purpose, I find vinyl can be an ambient cop out. Listen to some of the best producers, the ones that you love, they use vinyl for specific things, but they’re going to use a lot of trees and nature and creeks babbling and shit like that. You've got to put yourself out there with a field recorder. I use my iPhone to do this stuff sometimes.
But in terms of how I do my effects, like I said, I’ve got that melodic chunk, and I'll drop the effects rack onto it. So, basically this is keeps everything really tight because my drums are going through just as they would and the melodic stuff is reacting to the effects that I send. So I have those stutters that’s a kinda trademark of the 404SX, but if you want to do that in Ableton, use the beat repeat. You can have a manual one, there’s one that does it by a speed, so it just spins down slower or faster, but they’re just like pitch shift. So I'll use stuff like that and I try to do it sparingly.
Like I said, I think of them like fills. So in a composition, when you're putting fills down, it should be at the end of every four bars if it’s a long fill, and if it’s a short fill, you can do it every two bars. But every bar is excessive, and I think that's what happens when people are using the SP404 and they are rocking a beat that doesn't have a change-up. So it’s just one sample of doing its thing, and then one drum line, it can start to get a little crazy with the FX, and it’s like sometimes you need to assess just what you're rocking.
But you can have more change-ups in the beat itself, and then apply the other stuff. You can get so much more specific. So when I'm recording, when I did a lot of the recording for ‘Sleeptalker’, I would actually link up those effects racks to an Akai MPD 218. So I’ve got these fixed knobs that I can midi map, and then I’ve got two more on my midi keyboard. So if I want I can map an entire midi rack to these knobs, and I'll record those as I have, after I set up my arrangement, basically.
So it’s almost like the track’s basically done, but it’s this part of the end is just adding spice, if that makes sense.
Yes, that's a really good way of putting it. , .
It’s quite interesting to hear about your process because it, and don't take this as a negativism, sounds quite scientific and I'm just wondering if that process then translates to creating a thematic album or a project.
I think the way I do it really lets my style shine through. I think with the music I'm making this is really important, like the drum work and the general aesthetic, because, at the end of the day there’s 12 notes in a chromatic scale, eight notes in a non-chromatic scale and no one’s doing anything different. You can’t write a chord progression that no one’s played before.Like let’s be real, we’ve all played chord progressions and then a few days later somebody’s like, ‘oh my God, is this that chord progression?and it’s, oh shit, it is.’ I think that's one thing that was part of the mentality with ‘Decider’ honestly. I do take a lot of time, and I'm an over thinker. I have anxiety and that shit, it’s no fun. But being patient with yourself, and putting yourself in the right environments to grow and heal is essential and I feel that's one thing that really helped my music get a lot more specific. I could build the sound that was me and stop worrying about the smaller details. It’s a constant progression though because even lately I'm debating having my dude who does my mastering do my mixing, because typically I do my mixing, but it could sound better if it was done by somebody who does this professionally and has been doing this professionally for a while. I mixed ‘Sleeptalker’ myself, but it was mastered by my guy. I'm happy with the mixes though, but there’s somewhere I'm just like, oh, that could be slightly more professional sounding. It’s almost there. But at the same time, I’ve heard a lot of people tell me, oh, this sounds so good, so I'm probably just being a little self-critical, like a person with anxieties.
So is it a process where these beats are made and then you work out which ones fit to an idea you're already having? Or is it that these beats are made within a certain mind state or whatever, and that informs actually what the project’s about?
So I create the tracks with a general idea of what I want the album to be about. I have a general concept and basically where I go from there is through a lot of beats I’ve created and then ones I'm working on at the moment. So with ‘Sleeptalker’, I did those over a period of three or so months, maybe even a little bit more. I started with the general idea of ‘Sleeptalker’, like it was the blindsides, and then I created and finished up the instrumentals that I wanted to be the general album. Another one sub-theme of everything I release is just cosmic shit, and then animals.
I actually think animals are the coolest thing, and I think it’s weird that we’re animals and we separate ourselves from these things, but we don’t really know how different we are, all we know is that we have thumbs and we can talk to each other – but they can talk to each other so, we’re really not that different.We’ve just got thumbs . So, tying back into my animal side of me was like, oh yes, what are the things that I'm naturally good at? What are the things that make me feel like the best version of me? Both as a human but also as an animal. What things just physically make me feel nice? It’s like eating good food. Laughing with friends. Singing a favorite song. Other stuff that I probably shouldn't talk about .
But, yes, there’s so many things that we do that are solely for our enjoyment, and it’s understanding that. That’s like self-love, it’s like remembering to take some time to just breathe and treat myself right, right now.
It’s like you're tying together all these things that really move you, and then you try to translate that into the theme of whatever you're trying to create, if that makes sense…. Or I could be totally wrong .
No, no, you're right on! I was also about to say one big one that is actually a part of the album, is singing. All the singing samples on the album are me. So, there’s the ‘Magma Submarine’, that's one of my favourite beats of the last year or so. I just wanted it to be spacey, but also hot and bubbly. So it was just like, alright, it’s going to have a really funky beat and bass line, and then just super verby vocals.
That's just pretty much what happened, and then, like I told you about how I do my effects, it was pretty much a process of that, then my arrangement process where I use the clip view in Ableton. I’ll basically treat each horizontal line like a different section. So it’ll be, the first horizontal line is the intro, the second one down is the verse, and then the next once down is, the chorus, so to speak. Even if it’s an instrumental, you need these or else people will get bored listening quickly. I think especially with an instrumental, arguably. But yeah, you were right on the head with that. Singing is something that I did a lot of with this album, it’s just sampling myself and my voice in different ways.
We touched on it a little bit there, but I wanted to dive into some of your major musical influences, the kind of people that you really think have informed your sound.
Definitely. So I played with bands and stuff and I really enjoyed my time with it. I would do it all again in a heartbeat if I found the right people to be in a band with. But I wasn’t treating myself right and depression did its thing, and put some distance in between me and some good friends. That was a little bit of a wake-up call. I was like, alright, maybe I should try figure it out myself a little bit right now and music production felt like the perfect thing for me, because I can’t put music down, and even if this doesn’t turn into anything real, it’s something that will keep my head mentally clear.
So yeah it started with an appreciation of Hip-Hop because that started pretty late in life, honestly. I was like a Rock band freak, just like guitar head. I first started playing guitar in my uncle Brian’s house. He lives in Philadelphia and we were living in New Jersey at the time so we would go up there and visit them a lot, and he would always have all these guitars because he used to play in this band, Fabulous Fondas, like, back in the 80s. In Philly, they had their little impact, but I always knew him as uncle Brian, I didn’t know him as this rockstar dude, although he had musical instruments throughout his house. So he had guitars and I started messing around with them, and I was like, I really like this, this is a lot of fun! I'm a leftie, and he’s not a leftie, none of his kids are, so, like, I picked it up and just started learning like Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix was one of my earliest musical influences, his solos always sounded like the beauty of a forest fire to me. Chaos, but with passion and vision.
Eventually my dad was like, wow, he’s just doing that, okay! and he got me a leftie guitar, and I actually still have that acoustic. It’s warped to all hell. Every now and again I'll sample it though, just like a single note. Just because I can’t get anything else in tune. But it’s sentimental. I’ve debated selling it, and I'm like, no, I shouldn’t, I should try to restore it at some point or something. But yes, that's the thing about instruments, though, it’s like an extension of yourself. If you don’t treat it right they don’t last as long and they won’t sound as good in the long run.
So, in terms of Hip-Hop influences, where would you say that stems from?
My biggest influences in Hip-Hop were the Gorillaz, The Beastie Boys, Deltron 3030, and OutKast. I dropped out of school in Connecticut and I was going to the University of Hartford for a little bit. I was living at home, and my parents were like, alright, well, you've got to go back to school, you've got to do something. My dad got a job offer in Seattle, so we lived out there together for a while. So I went to this school and Central Washington University for a bit, after a stint in community college, and there was a Hip-Hop club at CWU. I was into production a little bit at the time. Just messing around with Garageband. I didn’t have Logic quite yet, but I think I was listening to a lot of gangsta rappers, like 2013, 2014, probably? As a white kid from the suburbs, my parents were sheltering and I don’t hate them for it, but at the same time I'm had some ignorant views at points in time. Good thing I learned that was the case.
But yeah, I just developed this huge appreciation for Hip-Hop, because making a Rock song, it’s like, alright, G, D, E, cool. Throw a solo on it and you've got an All-American Reject song or whatever. But I felt with Hip-Hop, there’s so much more feel that you need to achieve, and even with a ton of music theory you could sit down and try to make a Hip-Hop beat and it’s probably going to sound like garbage, because there’s so much more to it than that.
I think also it’s one of the truly American genres of music. It’s one of the only ones. I think Jazz isn’t really truly American, because it exists in a lot of other countries, but Hip-Hop definitely started here.
I get you, I totally get you. So are you in Boston area right?
Yeah, well near Boston. I’m in Massachusetts.
Sure. In your interpretation of that, would you say that Boston inspires you, or your area inspires you?
Boston, in the last year, has been one of the most inspiring places for not just music but Hip-Hop specifically. It’s interesting because Boston before was blocking out Hip-Hop in certain areas, trying to keep it from happening. I'm not going to call anybody out specifically because I’ve got to play in this town, but that was a thing. Now it’s being addressed as a profitable thing, so of course they’re accepting it. But yeah it’s been beautiful how much connection I’ve seen in the last year or two in the Boston Hip-Hop scene, because there’s so many people that are just stepping up and making shit happen.
There’s a few people I'm thinking of right now who are just… Like this dude Loman, that's his producer name, but he just opened this shop (called Union Sound in Bow Market) in Somerville, which is near Boston, that's dedicated to Hip-Hop gear and recording. There’s just so many artists that I think blow a lot of the stuff on the radio out of the water. Rappers specifically, but producers too. Boston’s got a huge scene of producers, but rappers and is the actual essence of Hip-Hop. The word play and all that stuff.
I'm hearing some next level shit but I'm trying to think of a few examples. The biggest waves I’ve noticed are coming from Oompa, Latrell James, but even on the more up and coming There’s this dude Seefour ; and this guy he sounds like Kendrick and like a few other people rolled into one. Just a super particular flow, but the content of what he’s rapping about is, brilliant. The producer scene, like I said, is pretty big too, because we’ve got Rah Zen, Loman, Dephrase out here, we’ve got Lightfoot just to name a few. Catman too man, this dude, oh my God. We have track together on this project.
Yeah 13 Cats II, right?
Yes, 13 Cats, because his name is Catman and it’s perfect . But yeah with that one, this dude is next level on the keys. Like Corey Henry vibes. Just fingers like fucking water and just flowing all over the keyboard. So, the show that I'm playing this weekend, Nightworks, he played at the last one. Rah Zen Is another dude who’s making a huge impact on the Boston scene as well, because he’s been doing this thing.This is going to be episode 11 of Nightworks and they bring out a huge crowd, and a lot of music people showing up to these things, because they’re beat maker shows. At the end there’s a freestyle and stuff like that too. They also have all these pop-ups of the local stuff, like Loman , he’s got that shop, Union Sound, and they pop up and he brings out some of the samplers and stuff that he sells so people can mess around with them. So it’s a whole event dedicated to the culture of Hip-Hop. So that is really cool. But yeah, I was talking about Catman. He played the last one, and he played live, so he was playing Ableton with his keyboard and synthesiser out. Dude, like shifts and this was the same one that STLN DRMS came out for.
Oh wow okay!
Yes, so STLN DRMS was at the last Night Works and he comes out while Catman’s playing, and I see this dude just like, holy shit, what is happening? This music is incredible. It’s like a Thundercat, Flying Lotus vibe. He can go real crazy with the beats, but they still sound incredible. He’s somebody that I was just like, oh man, I'm really glad I met this guy. Super nice dude, just so talented, so skilled at what he does. You can tell he’s been using the keys for a long time, and he knows his shit.
For sure. So obviously Boston and that kind of area, it’s got some pretty steep competition city-wise. What do you think sets Boston apart musically from your neighbours?
Sure. That's a good question. The other East Coast cities definitely have more of an established scene, but it’s interesting because I consider the producer scene of any city more similar than it’s Rap scene. In one sense you can see it as competition, but that's probably just going to hurt your success. The more you see community, the better odds you're going to succeed in the long run.
I used to have such a bad ego with my music shit and it just was a part of the depression stuff, but I was just like, oh my God, I need to be playing with people who are not quite as good as me. They were probably actually a little better than me, but they just can’t do this one thing. I was like ‘Oh, oh, wait, you can’t do this thing?’, that mentality wasn’t healthy. People put so much in between themselves and other people, mentally and it’s not even real.
But like I said, as a producer, it’s the more you think about competition, the less people you're going to be talking to. You’re just creating walls. So that's something that, with New York being right there, they have their own scene, and we mesh. There’s also people out in Jersey, like Nimzo too. I connected with Nimzo a little while ago because they’re doing this producer showcase thing, and The Phronetic was there too with this dude Dr Doppler. He’s got a really cool sound. He’s 100% sampled stuff, and it’s wow. It’s next level. He’s also got this cool SP, but instead of for sound, it’s for VHS tapes. That's the best way I can describe it but he uses it with a projector, and he used it at that show, and it was fucking crazy.
So it’s essentially what sets Boston apart is essentially it can mesh and, from your perspective, it’s realised how big this Beat thing is when everybody gets together.
Yeah and sound-wise, I think it’s interesting, like, in the past there is definitely region-specific sounds, but I think with the internet and groups like the lo-fi family, it’s a lot less relevant. That's why there’s a whole scene in Texas right now too, like with Doc Guava and those guys..
I agree. You’re actually a very kinetic force within the community and I think we need more of that. What does being in this community mean to you?
It’s really cool the way the internet works man, because it started with lo-fi family for me. It was that and somebody I knew from high school and when you can make these connections (and this is going to sound weird) but it’s like the human brain does this thing with negative versus positive things, how it perceives them and how long that image lasts in your mind. Positive things, they go away like that if you let them, but the negative stuff just lingers. That's like a normal thing for most humans, regardless of mental health.
Yes, it’s a defence mechanism really, isn’t it? It’s like remember this bad thing, because if it happens again you need to know what you need to do to not be affected by this bad thing.
Exactly. I’ve had people call me names and shit online and literally 90% of the time I don't let the conversations end if that shit happens. However I'm not going to act like I do that all the time because some people, they’re just sitting on that negative shit and they’re trying to start this shit. It’s like the trolls of the world and it’s like such a weird thing. It’s like, hey, they’re going to exist, you've got to be aware of them, you've got to be aware where to delegate your energy. Like am I going to really spend ten minutes arguing with somebody online, or am I going to spend ten minutes online connecting with people and helping my own brand.
Musicians who want to take it seriously have no business being aggressive and just dick-ish. It doesn’t matter what level you're at, too. You can sell out multiple bars over the course of a year, but if you're an ass, people are going to stop wanting to work with you, and you're probably going to be limited to those bars that you sell out because they know you could sell it out, but that's where you're going to be stuck.
People I know who have been doing this shit for a while, they’re hustling. They’re still putting in the same energy they were putting in 10, 20, 30 years ago. Some people I know who put out some of the dopest music, they work three jobs, and they’re all in music, so they’re doing exactly what they want to be doing, but man, life is rough. You've got to give people the benefit of the doubt.
Do you think these beat communities that you're coming across are more positivity than negativity?
There’s a bit of that positivity and negativity, you can almost throw that away though and just think of it as connectivity. The more you think about an interaction, whether good or bad, the less you're going to actually learn from it. So if you're in a scenario and it’s like, oh man, it sucks, waiting for the bus, why do I have to wait for the bus? The more you think about that, the less time you have to be commenting on people’s stuff on Instagram, because that's how you actually gain new followers and likes. Do you see what I mean?
Engaging with Instagram, this is something that frustrates me. People think that they can just leave a comment with this huge thing, and it’s like ‘buy my cover art!’ blah blah blah. It’s like, dude, the first interaction you're putting out into the world with this other person is buy my shit! That's a negative interaction and most people will see it as that. The only time you should be asking for stuff is on your own posts, on your own page because that's why you have it. If you trust yourself and trust the process, it’ll come and if you put in the time. Sometimes you've got to put in the time for ten years and most people do. Some of the best artists, they don’t blow up within five years. It takes like 15 years.
Of course. Talking of best artists or artists in the scene, who do you think, is really killing it right now? Who’s really creating stuff that's really interesting you and inspiring you?
So, for context about me, I took a digital marketing course recently. It wasn’t actually related to music, but I turned it into something about music, because I used it as an opportunity to build my brand a little better, because I do take myself seriously, and this is something I do want to pursue as a financial means of sustainability. So I cleaned up the stuff, I made a website, I did all these things, and honestly those guys with that stuff locked down, are influential to me. I know a lot of people find these people corny, but I don't really care, because that's only hurting yourself. Musically, lotta respect for the women making waves in a male dominated scene- moshun, lil Bad snacks, Sadiva, Eevee. All these people seeing a lot of success and I think it’s great. In terms of direct influences that are also motivational in regards to online presence,
People like Kato on the Track for sure. That dude at this point is just helping producers for free. He posts nothing but really useful information about how to network, how to licence your beats, even just beat making and shit. He gives out stuff, all sorts of things. Also guys like the Cymatix guys. They’re always doing huge giveaways and stuff and it’s engaging with the community, talking to people, setting up stuff. They have a video where they talk about this event where a lot of people showed up but it cost real money for them, and they didn’t really get money back, but it was worth it because they were connecting people. When I heard that, I was like, hey, I really respect that, because there’s a lot of pushback in the concept of connecting people. It’s an industry that almost encourages that competitiveness, and this is art, this is not a sport.
Actual music wise however I’d say Dephrase absolutely. I actually took Beat-making lessons from him for a little bit because he offers Ableton lessons and he showed me some really useful stuff. On top of that, his beats are so particular and I think that's the coolest thing. I hear a beat and I could tell this was him when it shows up in a playlist within a second. There’s no denying that it’s his stuff.
But, yes, Dephrase, Lightfoot, both those guys, honestly. Seeing them being successful is inspiring to me because if other people can do it, I can do it too. There’s no reason three people can’t do this, if two people can do this. It’s possible.
I see what you're saying. If those two guys could create things that make an individual prick up their ears, then you can have that effect as well.
Yeah for sure! In terms of more mainstream music, one artist I fucking love right now is Lizzo. I think her production alone, is fantastic, and then her musicality, you can tell she’s been making music for a while. Firstly because she plays the flute (she did that at the BET awards, which was incredible) and her voice is fucking phenomenal. Like she raps, she sings, and one thing I'm really glad that I haven't heard is people comparing her to Anderson Paak, because no. She’s her own thing. She has so much power in her voice, in her presence. When you hear her voice on the track, even when she’s just talking, it’s like damn, okay, I'm listening, I'm paying attention.
So you mentioned Night Works earlier, talk to me about that. How did it come about? What are the details of it and stuff like that?
So Night Works was set up by Rah zen. He’s a beat maker in Boston too who’s been steady working.He’s one of those guys who I feel like is going to be a pretty well-known name in almost no time because he’s already got a presence in the area. He’s done 10 of them now and this is the 11th. The idea is that he brings together about five beat makers, each of them do a half-hour set, and then there’s some resident DJs and stuff. At the end of the night there’s a freestyle as well, like a cypher. There’s also pop-ups and stuff, but the idea here is literally just bringing together the Beat making culture and the Hip Hop heads who appreciate the craft and stuff. There’s a lot of SPs, Rah zen rocking the 555, a lot of people breaking out 404s. It’s just like a really fun time, and this time and last time it’s at this place Backlash Brewing, like a brewery, and it’s just, like, the whole vibe.
It’s a very impressive line-up, how did you feel going into it?
There’s been a lot of personal stuff going on right now so I didn’t really have the benefit of having too much time to think about it? So it’s been interesting. I was really excited for it, and I'm ready to play my stuff out more generally now, just to help my mental health a little bit. So it’s not going to go good or bad, it’s going to go. People will vibe with it, people won’t, but the brain will perceive more negative shit than positive shit, especially when you're doing something that you're nervous about doing.
So it’s knowing how to just be. I'm just going to get into it, get into the vibe, try to find my flow, jam out. I’ve got my setlist lined up, I’ve got my tracks lined up into the SP, so it’s a matter of showing up and just getting at it.
So you were just excited to get out there and do your shit, basically?
Yeah. I'm trying to let this be a positive that I can hold onto. I’ve got a lot of good people coming out to support me, which is always a nice feeling. My best friend since high school Jeremy [?] is going to be there, my wife’s going to be there. Some of their friends are going to be there. I don't need a huge crowd jamming to my stuff, I just need to know the people I care about are near me, and that's the important thing for me right now. It was actually me and my wife’s two-year anniversary, last week too so this will be a nice event for us too.
So how was the gig in the end?
First off, you will appreciate this, Radicule was on the line up so we connected the day after. We talked about what you are doing out here and the dude’s just a generally great guy. But from the show itself it was a great night, the turnout was great although it was over 100 degrees the day of and after, so that was an interesting detail. It literally didn’t cool down outside till around 1am. But with the line up and the general vibe it was great. This producer out of Boston, Loman had a pop up for Union Sound set up too. A lotta vinyl and music gear for sale, so it’s a big portion of the Boston scene.
Ah that’s awesome! How important do you think an in real life scene is to beat culture?
I think the in real life scene is the most important thing. It’s really cool to see these events become more available and inclusive and stuff too. Boston is, I already mentioned this, a liberal city but in the way liberals can be racist and, buy out property and gentrify neighbourhoods etc .
I know what you mean, yes.
And I'm a liberal though and sometimes I feel like I'm a part of the problem, but at the same time it’s nice being able to see these scenes coming together, and in areas that people used to try and convince other people are shitty.
So the scene that's in Boston is actually particularly refreshing, because, like I said, I lived in the Seattle area for a while, I'm from New Jersey and seeing the scene in New Jersey when I was playing that show more recently and seeing how Boston’s coming along; it’s refreshing to see just the world adjusting to what’s happening in the way it can. It’s like, well, we’re just going to enjoy what we can enjoy and go from there.
It’s cool that Beat culture is doing this as well, considering its comparative size to other genres. I’ve noticed that there’s been a lot more live events going on, a lot more meet ups and stuff like that.
It’s interesting how it’s shifted, because Rock music isn’t king right now. Rock music is indie, almost, at this point. It’s cool because there’s a lot of cool Rock stuff happening right now too, but it’s really cool seeing Hip-Hop being truly salt with seriously because it’s multi-genre. Hip-Hop isn’t one genre, it’s like 17 having a party and when that's happening in the best way, everybody enjoys it. I’ve talked about this with a lot of people, like a lot of immigrants come to America and they connect to Hip-Hop because there’s stuff there.
Sure, I get you.
Everybody has their own connection to it. And it’s really cool to see that. But yeah, you were saying the IRL scene is becoming a lot more real, and that's definitely the case. Seeing Boston, there’s a few artists that are taking it next level. On top of the ones I already mentioned there’s O O M P A. She’s doing some really cool stuff. There’s also Latrelle James. This dude is writing commercials for cereal companies and stuff. He’s on the next level but his personal music is incredible as well.
It’s really cool seeing all this stuff happen in Boston and knowing that this is a representation of Boston as a city. It does have weird history, but this is new history being made and it’s cool to be a part of it.
What can we expect next from 13PM? What’s on the horizon for the rest of the year?
I’ve had a few thoughts about that, and right now it’s a little amorphous, but one thing I definitely want to do is a lot more collaborations. I feel like at the heart of music. It’s a human connection thing and I really just love working with other people’s sounds. It’s something that I appreciate a lot more now as a producer than I think I did when I was trying to be a singer-songwriter working with bands. Just appreciating the context of instruments and how people use them, and how you react to them using them, with your instruments. Different conversations. But yeah I want to do some collabs, try to play out some more, trying to enjoy the summer while I can. It’s supposed to be like 100 degrees this weekend, so that’ll be interesting!
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