Aug 31

Beat Breakthrough 001: Oddkidout

by in beat breakthrough, Interviews

Beat Breakthrough talks to different music producers about the beats that were significant in their development. On our first ever instalment we talk to Philly producer Oddkidout about some of the beats that have shaped his progression.

What is the oldest or one of the older beats that you can find? Tell us the story behind it.

Beat Name: Untitled

This is the first beat I’ve ever made. My parents bought me Logic 9 for my 15th birthday, so this beat is about 6 years old. I was so excited, I opened up the program without reading any manuals and literally just started creating. As I was moving things around and programming sounds haphazardly, I was starting to get a feel for the program. I had so much music stored in my head for so many years that when I sat down in the program, it all began to just pour out. I ran downstairs after I made the beat and played it for my parents, who were shocked that I even could figure out the program and create something musical within an hour.

I didn’t sample anything for this beat, but I created it with mainly apple loops (which are royalty free samples that come with Logic). So I hadn’t comprehended Midi yet, but was just starting to drag files onto the grid and learn how to layer and chop. At the time, I was listening to a lot of 90’s hip-hop and jazz, so naturally I was choosing boom bap drums and a vibraphone for the melody. I still think it’s a cool beat. I mean I would never, ever send it to anyone or put it anywhere because it is completely amateur. But, it’s special to me because it’s my first. And I’m proud that my first beat still makes my head nod 6 years later.

Name a beat you have made that represents a turning point in your production career? What made this beat so significant?

Beat name: Amore (feat. GoGo Morrow and Bonic)

I’ve had so many turning points in my production career so far. I love all types of music, so whenever I create a song in a genre that I usually don’t do, it spawns off a whole new direction of creation for me. I literally had a turning point beat two days ago, it’s the best feeling ever because it represents growth. But, I think one of my favorite turning points was when I created my song “Amore (feat. GoGo Morrow and Bonic) on my EP, WITHIN. It was so significant to me because it was the first time that I had created a full song, from start to finish, with vocals on it. And to have GoGo and Bonic be the featured artists was such an amazing look. I was used to creating beats and then dishing them off to other people to use. In this scenario with Amore, I had control over the direction of the song, and was able to bring vocalists in and add them to what I was doing. It also inspired me to be more than a bedroom producer. It showed me that there’s more to just making beats, and that the true art is conjuring up a full package of instrumentation and vocalization. It’s inspired me since then to work in that mindset.

Want to learn how to play ‘Amore’ yourself? Download Melodics and get started today with  a suite of lessons designed by Oddkidout himself.

Aug 27

An Interview With Leonard Charles: Talks Career, Dilla & His Basement Studio

by in Interviews, Melodics, Pro Tips, Uncategorized

Going right back to the beginning what moment/person got you interested in music?

Witnessing how excited my parents were when they came home from a Jimmy Smith concert in the 80’s.

From this point how long was it until you started creating your own songs and beats?

I started writing my own music at high school and then made my first beat with Kutcorners (Serato) in 1998, we borrowed a Boss SP202 from our local music store from our friend who was the manager of the store (he now works for Ableton).

You have appeared in many different musical bands and projects over the years including Open Souls, She’s So Rad and now Leonard Charles. All these projects are distinctly different in terms of genre and sound. Have you always had such an eclectic taste? Are you seasonal in what you listen to?

I just listen to what I like on any given day. I have a fairly decent record collection so in the morning I just reach for the record I want to hear. I usually end up working on music influenced that record when I get to the studio.

With all that experience under your belt who is the coolest person you have met in your musical  journey so far? Can you explain what your first encounter with them was like?

A huge part of my musical experience I owe to Dave Cooley. He is a mastering engineer / producer. He always has time to share knowledge and is a genuine person within the global music industry. The first time we met he invited me to a recording session he had at Sunset Studio’s in LA working with a band called Silversun Pickups. They gave us a some tips on riding the busses in LA.

Tell us about your project ‘Basement Donuts’. What inspired the project initially and how did it evolve?

Inspiration for Basement Donuts is all J Dilla. People who know me know how important J Dilla’s music is to me. I’m not exaggerating when I say he has influenced every single piece of music I have released or produced. I was invited to perform at a night to raise money for the Dilla Foundation and so I decided to make it a special performance and remake J Dilla’s album Donuts but in my own way. The most important thing about J Dilla’s music is that it is unique to him so in order for me to serve the music right I needed to make my version unique to myself. I feel confident that I achieved this, I was hesitant at first because I really didn’t want to step on the toes of one of Hip Hop’s greats. I had the honor of playing some of my tracks from the release to Guilty Simpson and  he was feeling it. That seal of approval was enough for me to know I was doing the right thing.


The bulk of this project and a lot of your music is made in your basement studio. What was the first bit of equipment you bought for it and what gear do you have now in your studio?

The first equipment I bought was an MPC2000 and a turntable back in 2000. I have a bunch of gear now but the main things I use are: Ableton with Push. Roland Rhythm330, Roland MP600, Moog Voyager, Roland Chorus Echo, UAD Apollo, UA LA-610, Akai MPC3000, Fender Rhodes, Fender Jazz Bass, Fender P Bass, Fender Coronado, Premier 1075 drum kit, the list goes on.

In 2008 you performed at the ‘MPC Championship of the World’ under the name Jeremy Ota. Are you able to tell our viewers more about this event and the hours taken to build your cardboard MPC suit?

Haha, The event used to be held every year in New Zealad. It was an invitational MPC beat battle. A week out from the event all the competitors are given the exact same samples and get to make whatever they want to out of the samples given. I decided to do a tribute to all the Hip Hop I love by manipulating the samples they gave us and remaking classic beats. Some of the beats I made were even by people I was competing against.

You have helped design lessons for Melodics in the past primarily in the Chiptunes and Classic Breaks genres. What is it like having a Leonard Charles lesson released?

It’s cool. I really like the educational element to Melodics and I love building lessons that push peoples imagination. I hope that some of the elements from my own lesson will inspire people to go and create music.

What can Melodics users expect from your “Can We Go Back” lesson? Do you have any tips for how a newbie should approach the lesson.

I think a good approach is to go and listen to the godfather of modern funk – Dam Funk. Then go back to the lesson and just feel the drums. The drums are so important, the way the kick sits in the rhythm.

Who are the three artists you are listening to the most right now?

Mulholland – he has a studio above me so I hear his music all day.

Abdullah Ibrahim (Dollar Brand)

Common

What advice would you give to an aspiring music producer or beat maker?

Be yourself.  Respect the architects/ creators of the music you are making. Look to the past for education and look inside yourself for creativity. When it is time to make music forget the world around you and just feel what you are doing, get in the zone, that is where the magic is.