BD1982 has been one of my favorite producers for a minute. I’ve been including his tracks on mixes and dropping them when I play for about two years now. His Spaceboots EP on Seclusiasis was one of the most banging EPs of the last 12 months- and he now has a full length out entitled “Lets Talk Math.” He laced DA with a lengthy interview, an exclusive mix for the podcast- as well as an Erykah Badu vocal version of “Subtract”.
tracklist after the jump
T: So- we’ve been in touch for at least two years now- I first became familiar with your production through your monstrous “Water-Faucet” riddim, which shows up here as the instrumental for the gun man tune “Shotta Pon da Corner.” Lets maybe begin there. How did you come to work with Two Seven? Were you always planning on getting a vocal on that instrumental? What about “Fresh Air Ft. Syntonics” (one of my absolute favorites on the album) and “Chased by The Rain”- where the vocals take on a more instrument like role. How do you conceptualize the role of a vocalist in mainly instrumental genres? When your djing out are you playing primarily instrumental tracks as well?
B: I had been a fan of 77klash since hearing “Brooklyn Anthem” and sent a message through Myspace to see if he’d be interested in voicing a tune and luckily he was up for it! I hadn’t really planned on trying to get an original vocal for “Water Faucet” intially, maybe just because the “Blueberry Afghani” bootleg remix was making some rounds, but I’m still incredibly happy at how dope “Shotta Pon De Corner” ended up .
More Interview Under the Hood
For “Fresh Air,” Dev79 and Starkey reached out to Syntonics when we were getting the tracklist of Lets Talk Math finalized. I originally got a longer vocal back that was then edited down to the final version to flow with the track sequencing that I had done back in August 2008. The final version came together really quick and was a nice surprise to have ready in time when submitting the album mixes.
I started chatting with Low Leaf about a year or so ago, trading tunes and talking about a collaboration. “Chased By The Rain” I had in mind to keep as an instrumental at first but she heard it and wanted to try to vocal it. I think she without a doubt takes on more of an instrument kinda vibe with the tune like you said, almost humming along with the other elements but still coming through on her own.
In general I really like to see vocalists do their own thing when working within primarily instrumental-based genres. Of course the best situation as a producer would be to work together in the same room with someone, bouncing ideas back and forth but it’s also cool to see how vocalists take tracks at face value and add their own interpretations. When DJing out I like to play at least one or two full vocal tunes but also make an effort to play tracks with vocal elements incorporated in some form too. Most of the time I work on new tracks, I have the idea that it will be eventually used with a vocal somewhere down the line ingrained in my brain.
T: I’ve always loved what a unique pallet you work with. Can we get a little geeky on gear and methods- “Open Container” hints at this most explicitly- but really you always seem to be pushing the envelope with instrumentation. Are you working with sample packs? Recording your own hits? Just break down your workflow.
B: Thanks a lot, I actually spend a decent amount of time searching and preparing elements to work with, drums especially. I don’t really use sample packs in the way that all the sounds used in a track are taken from one specific source. It usually takes about a month or so to compile a new batch of sounds to drop into the MPC and start working on new ideas. I’ll grab drums and hits from wherever really, sampled from old records, certain sounds picked from a sound pack, zombie movies, and so on. The past few years I’ve been recording a lot of things on my own, like the can opening and hand claps on “Open Container,” with an Edirol R-09. Without a doubt my production sensibilities come from the hodge podge way of doing things. Definitely The RZA has been a huge influence on making tracks aesthetically. Being able to take a bit from here, a piece from there, something recorded in the other room and making them all work together in a new way is pretty amazing and so much fun to try.
My set up is mostly hardware centered apart from using Pro Tools: Akai MPC2000 XL, Access Virus TI Snow, Casio GZ-5, and Pro Tools for recording, mixing and a bit of processing. Pretty much all the composition and sequencing I do is done on the MPC. I got the blue model with SD/Compact Flash reader built in so it’s really convenient to EQ, add a little compression to samples in Pro Tools first and then load the .wavs up straight away. For me its a lot easier to get ideas together quickly when I have a bunch of sounds I’ve been gathering for a while right in front of me and I can just start banging out ideas on the MPC. I’ve never really been into sampling melodies explicitly. I usually would take just a few notes then play a new rhythm with the notes on 16 Levels in the MPC with the sample on Poly letting some of the ending notes overlap. In the past few years I’ve been getting into using more synth-based melody parts played with the Virus. Tweaking patches, drums and random little parts is really important to get this general pallette and tone that I generally have in my head from the start.
It’s crazy how sometimes a track that ends up working out really well can come together in about 15 minutes and another one takes 3 months to get done. I think most producers have similar situations happening to them most of the time too. Building a track can be like a watercolor painting, adding and subtracting elements to get it up to speed of where you think it should be before deciding it’s finished.
T: You moved out to Japan a few years ago- and you’ve fallen in pretty close with some of the heavier hitting dubstep/bass heavy players there like the Back To Chill crew. Alot of times US producers are pretty slighted when it comes to the canonical dubstep (forum) scene at large. Obviously your good friends with P.J. whose had one of the strongest responses globally of any stateside producer- but never the less you’ve doublly ghettoized yourself by moving out to Japan. Can you talk abit about how that move had an effect on your production sensibilities- and your general sense of “the scene.”
B: I never thought about moving out to Japan like that, but I don’t disagree with you. I also lived in Kyoto in 2005 for a year, which was the same time I first picked up the MPC. The experience then and now has really helped me to focus on developing new directions which can be both postivie and negative. On one hand, I feel like I’m less distracted and can zone out for a long time when working on new material which without a doubt helps the creative process. On the the other hand, I sometimes end up spending too long letting something marinate that probably could have been finished up with a little extra push.
Being able to play out with the Back To Chill crew and all the other main-stay DJs in Tokyo pushing heavy bass music has been an amazing opportunity. Many of those guys are great producers too, making everything from 100bpm techno to really intricate poly-rhythmic jungle stuff. Playing out at venues here has really changed parts of my attitude towards production in that I want to make a lot more material that is generally club-friendly. Lately I’ve been trying to simplify new productions which would get the maximum effect of just that specific tune rather than try to fit in everything under the sun into 4 minutes which I’ve done a bit in the past.
The scene in Japan for heavy bass much is still pretty small but the people involved in it are extremely passionate. There’s a general tone of open-mindedness that I’ve had trouble seeing back in the US at times a few years ago, but maybe it’s about the same now. The support that I’ve been shown personally from everybody Stateside to UK to Japan has been really humbling and always very much appreciated. Without a doubt having someone that I respect give me props is much more important than being in the top thread on a forum.
T: Your working primarily in and around 130 and 140 BPM. I generally think of you as a dubstep producer- but your obviously on the outer edges of things- and if genre orthodoxy still stands- your 130 work CANT be considered dubstep- but I also am fairly at a loss as to who your sonic peers are? Is there anyone out there at the see really pushing in similar directions? Whose work, contemporary or dated, has been influential?
B: A few people lately I think are really killing it would be BreY, DD Black and Jam City. Those guys have some crazy material that I’ve been really excited about and am looking forward to hear more of all the time. Starkey, Dev79 and the extended Seclusiasis crew always keep me motivated to try and push things in new directions. Just recently I’ve been listening to Ill Cosby and the releases on Car Crash Set which are crazy. I feel like there’s so many people across the board making amazing music all the time I’m sure I’ll think of a million other names tomorrow.One album that has had a huge impact on me over time is Massive Attack’s Mezzanine. All-time top 5 material no question. I get a lot of inspiration from Goblin, I love how their material was so diverse yet still recognizable as their own. I mentioned earlier about RZA too, probably my all-time favorite producer.
T: On a more meta-tip, can you talk abit about deciding to release a full length- in a genre that generally focuses on singles and where the dj mix remains the primary arbiter between audiences and producers- what made you feel that an hour long release was an essential move. Why not just grab the best singles and release them as E.P.s and keep the rest
of the tracks as dubs for you and your set? Do you want people to listen to the album all the way through?
B: When making Lets Talk Math there wasn’t really an explicit plan for an album. I actually hadn’t thought about the fact that not so many people were putting out full-length releases. At the end of the day it felt like a nice chapter of my work that had a general starting and ending point time line wise could be presented in an album context and work. It’d be nice if people had the chance to listen from start to finish but sometimes when I buy a new full-length album I’ll often throw it on shuffle right away. Next time around I’m more likely to release EP based projects, at least for a little while until thinking about a solid concept for the next full-length. One of my best friends had a concept for an album based on the periodic table of elements which may be a jumping off point for grounds to explore.
T: Obvious journo direction- whats next? What else are doing besides music these days? Any book, art, movie recommendations for the greater DA readership?
B: So far this year I’ve got a remix coming out for Matt B, then something for Dev79. A side project I started with 100mado from Back To Chill called Makumba Sound is gaining steam, we’ve co-produced about 12 tracks which will hopefully be out later this year in some form or another. I just finished a collaboration tune with Matt B called “S.J.T.” that I’m really excited about. There’s some more of my own material to be released on Street Bass Anthems Volume 5 on Seclusiasis and the Slit Jockey Mixtape Volume 2. Also looking forward to finishing up about 6 tracks now that could work out nice as separate EPs. I’d like to play as many shows as possible too, most likely will be back around the east coast in June but would of course love to visit somewhere new in addition to the home-bases of NY, Philly and Tokyo.
Last year I read World War Z by Max Brooks which was incredible and highly recommend. It’s a look at how a zombie epidemic would affect the world at large taking into account individual social, political and religious doctrines. Recently I’ve been checking out Herbert Spliffington’s blog Lasonic TRC-931 which is also good for hours of browsing enjoyment. http://spliffington.tumblr.com/
Thanks so much for the opportunity to talk with the Dutty Artz fam!
BD1982 – “Boneyards” (Seclusiasis)
Marlon D – “Trust The Drum” (Underground Collective)
Makumba Sound – “The Future” (dub)
Bart B More – “Romane (French Fries & Bambounou Remix)” (Sound Pellegrino/Institubes)
Terror Danjah – “Air Bubble (BreY’s Unmix)” (dub)
Roska – “Time Stamp” (Rinse Recordings)
Teddy Douglas – “The Caribou (Karizma Remix)” (Basement Boys)
BD1982 – “If Your Girl Only Wahm” (Seclusiasis)
Makumba Sound – “Domino” (dub)
Thebe – “Tha Rocka Calabash” (Kalawa Jazmee Records)
BD1982 – “Amulet Riddim” (Seclusiasis)
BreY – “2 For 2” (dub)
Rossi B & Luca ft. Killa P – “E10 Riddim (Police Ar Come Run)” (Planet Mu)
DD Black – “Kunlun Soundz” (dub)
Starkey – “11th Hour” (Planet Mu)