It has been a big twelve months for OddKidOut. He has smoothly transitioned from an Instagram sensation to the festival line ups of SXSW and Firefly this summer. In regards to production he has also been busy with the creation and release of his new EP called “Full Circle”. The Philly producer was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about his new EP, what he has learned in the last year and his three new lessons on Melodics.
The last time we did a Q & A with you was April 15, 2016. How have things changed for you in terms of your music career in the past year?
It’s been that long already? I feel like a lot has changed in the year, specifically with my artistry. I’ve been focusing much more on my industry presence as both an artist and a producer. I’ve slightly veered off the hip-hop path (I’m still on it 100%), but have opened up my musical horizons to different genres and new musical environments that I haven’t touched before.
What is the biggest life lesson you have learned over this time period?
I’ve learned so many things, but I think one of the most important ones was to be safely skeptical of what people tell you. I’m not saying not to trust people, but to rather assess what they are saying to you when you meet them and take it at face value until you get to know the person a little more. I used to get my hopes up and immediately think big things would come of these meetings but have recently realized that I need to be wary of what actually is the truth.
You will be performing at SXSW and Firefly this summer. What did it feel like when you first heard you will be performing at these events?
It was a great feeling, I’m so honored to be a part of both of the festivals. I had performed at SXSW two years ago so I was a little more taken back by Firefly since I haven’t even gone as a concert-goer. Honestly, I felt like my friends and family were more hype than me when I found out but that’s just because I’m constantly challenging myself and looking for the next big thing to do. However, I’m really grateful and excited to play…I’m counting down the days!
Your new Full Circle EP has just been released. Tell us about the EP and how it differs from your previous works?
The EP is different than my other music because I wrote it with two other people; 1403 and Mitch Beer. Immediately, the musical content was enhanced because these two are extremely talented and we understood how to work cohesively. 1403 is from London, so he brought with him those gritty vibes that acted as a counterpart to the more vibey sound that Mitch and I created here in the states. It’s what I like to a call a “genre-blender”. While some of my other music is obviously hip-hop or soul, the Full Circle EP wanders somewhere in between there and electronic music.
Was there a change in the way you approached producing this EP compared to your previous works?
Yeah, the way we produced this record was much different because we only had about a week. Tom (1403) came over here to the US for a week and that was when we basically constructed the whole project. Working in such a small timeframe was a little difficult, but also a great tool to keep the creative juices going. The project was really an organic creation that evolved over 7 days, and I think you can feel that in the music.
1403 features in a few tracks on the EP, adding richness to each track with his vocals. How did you guys connect?
Yeah, so 1403 is on every track, whether it was his vocals or an instrument he was playing. I was actually introduced to him through Mitch Beer; that’s how we all came together for the project.
What was it like working with 1403 throughout the project? What was the process of creation like?
It was “Wonderful”, ha! No, but in all seriousness, it was a delight working with both 1403 and Mitch. Musically, we all are on the same wavelength so it made the process very smooth. And from just a normal life standpoint, both are my homies so it’s always great to be around friends.
You mentioned in a previous interview that you have been listening to Anderson Paak’s ‘Malibu’ album a lot and loved how it fuses old school and modern elements. What other artists or albums have you been listening to lately?
I’ve also been listening to Rick Ross’s new album. That project is truly fire…I’ve had it on repeat recently. I’ve also been getting back into my Dubstep phase, as I’ve been listening to a lot of Excision and Datsik recently. I really listen to everything…this morning has been all about The Police aha.
What is the single biggest skill you have developed as a producer in the last six months?
The biggest production skill I’ve learned recently was how to utilize space, and that less is more. I found that I was over-producing my tracks when really the answer was just to incorporate more comprehensible parts that didn’t step all over the main lead.
You said in an interview for Creative Masters that you don’t like to describe your sound, but if you had to it would be a mixture between electronic and hip hop. It seems that has held true with your latest EP. Was that your intention?
Yeah, I usually try and stay away from genres or labels because I feel that it becomes limiting as a producer and an artist. I tend to say that I incorporate my soul into every track I make, that way I’m open to all sorts of opportunities. For this EP, it’s a direct incorporation of both my soul, but also Mitch and Tom’s as well. That was our intention….to make a project that was gestated from our creativity, and didn’t conform to any preconceived notions.
In the same interview, you talked about using the time you walk between places, shower and when falling asleep to plan and think about the past, present and future. Are you able to go into this process and how it has helped you achieve your goals?
Yes, this is a daily routine for me. The shower is still a sanctuary for me…I’m sure I piss off my roommate by being in there for hours at a time but there’s something so relaxing about hot water and it helps me think. And still, before I fall asleep, I always always always think about the next goal in mind. I think about how to get there, what I can do tomorrow to make that happen, and then imagine what I’ll do when I finally get to it. It helps visualize the goal and helps me stay focused on achieving what I want.
You have previously said that success for you, would be to redefine the way that people listen to popular music. Are you able to elaborate on this and what it would mean to achieve this goal?
Yeah, I really just want to share my uniqueness with the world. I would love to be writing tracks for the biggest artists, but doing it in a way that is unique. For example, you can almost always tell when an artist does a track with Pharrell (or the Neptunes), his sound is just iconic. I want to do the same thing with the way that I produce my tracks.
What excites you the most about releasing three songs off your EP on Melodics?
I’m most excited for the community to wrestle with some tracks that have actually been turned into real songs. Some of my past lessons have been beats and those contain invaluable lessons, but this round is almost more “real”, as the listener can play the lesson and then open up Spotify and listen to the real track.
Are there any tips you would give to Melodics users before playing your new lessons?
LOVE. YOUR. METRONOME. It’s the most important thing in music in my opinion; be one with the metronome. With all of my music, or anyone’s music at that, being able to lock into the groove is everything. I sometimes produce tracks off the grid that are still in a pocket, so in order to play that slightly swung feel, you need to master the metronome simply on its own. And I also just want to say thank you to everyone who has been messing with my lessons and thank you Melodics for allowing me to share my craft with the world!
Over the last few weeks we have made a couple of significant changes to how content is structured in Melodics. We regraded every lesson to move from 10 lesson grades to 20 – and we’ve overhauled all the tags used to classify lessons.
These new tags are a way to navigate the main components and skills required for each lesson. They are broken up into three categories; Rhythm, Technique and Lesson Style. Using these tags, you can separate your training into these areas and work on developing each of these important skills.
Let’s say you want to strengthen your hand independence. All you need to do, is go to the lessons screen and filter by the tag ‘hand independence’. This will give you a list of lessons that we recommend you should play to build that particular skill. The lessons are filtered from easiest to hardest, which will allow you build your skills up gradually.
Go to the lessons screen in the app. On the left hand panel click the top dropdown menu and select ‘Tags’
Once clicked a list of our new tags will be produced on the left hand panel.
Select a tag – For this example we have selected ‘Basic Independence’.
Once selected all our lessons that have been tagged with ‘Basic Independence’ will be filtered on the lessons list to the right. These lists will be shown from lowest grade to highest.
Tagging is particularly useful it you want to work backwards from a really challenging lesson. Say for example you wanted to learn to play Spinscott’s Jungle Break Fundamentals Vol. 1, grade 19 lesson. This lesson has the tags Endurance, Discrete and Fast. To build up the skills you need to master this lesson, you can find lower grade lessons that have the same tags, and work on building up these skills. In this case, start by filtering by the ‘Discrete’ tag. This will give you a list of lessons that require you to play rhythms consisting of individual hits, where usually no pads are played simultaneously. Justin Aswell’s Daily Warm Up’s – 16th Note Accent, grade 8 also has the tag ‘Endurance’ so this would be a good lesson to start with. When you’ve got that down, play Buddy Peace’s Desert Burner lessons from grade 9 to 11. Spinscott’s DnB Roller, grade 12 introduces the ‘Fast’ tag. You’ll notice when you get above grade 15 all the lessons tagged ‘Discrete’ belong to Spinscott. This shows you that his finger drumming style is fundamental to the ‘Discrete’ skill. If you want to play like Spinscott then that is a tag worth filtering by.
Here’s another example. Want to learn to play Soul Shaker, grade 16 by Beats by J Black? That lesson uses the tags Syncopation, Finger Independence and Swing. Using the tagging system, you can see that a good way to work towards this would be to play these lessons, starting with the first, and working your way up through progressively harder and harder lessons – Broken Boogie – Drums, grade 7, From Home to Work and Back – Drums, grade 8, Sovereignty, grade 8, Caxixi, grade 10, Island Breeze – Drums, grade 10, The Umm – Drums, grade 13… Soul Shaker, grade 16.
Below are all the new tags in Melodics, a definition of each one, and a example of a lesson that uses this tag.
Both hands have two or more fingers simultaneously operating on different time signatures or note divisions.
Bass Kleph – Pad Fever Grade 17
Playing a whole song through different sections. Often features multiple instruments and switching between parts.
Oddkidout – Amore Grade 8
A basic beat or rhythm, usually straight ¼ and playable with one finger. No more than two pads.
In early March Stro Elliot was kind enough to come into Melodics HQ while on tour down under. In just one afternoon Stro created a new Melodics lesson from scratch named ‘Eggs on Toast’ and even spared some time to do an interview with us. The conversation was full of amazing insights as Stro delved into his life as a musician and his unique approach to music production.
Tell us the story of how listening to Pete Rock growing up turned you into a finger drummer by accident?
When I started making and listening to beats I assumed that producers played all their drums at once. I thought this particularly when listening to how Pete Rock’s music sounded. He had such a loose feel, it sounded like a drummer was playing the drums even though I knew they were samples. So I’m listening to what he is doing and I’m assuming that he sat there and played through the whole track. Like a drummer would on a drum kit but on pads. So I taught myself how to play drums on pads. This is the way that many people see me play drums on pads now during my live shows. I later saw a video of him (Pete Rock) in the studio and watched him program drums one finger at a time, one sound at a time. I then realised how he really did it and was like ‘you have got to be kidding me’.
Fast forward to a show I had the honour of doing with him about a month or two ago. When I met him we did the set and he watched me perform and he said “yo that is really bugged out the way you play the drums with your fingers”. I then told him the story. He said “oh that is really crazy, but now you have this great tool that is in your favour and you can use”. So all in all it was a headache in the beginning but at the end of the day I guess it was all worth it.
That is pretty incredible how you went from listening to Pete Rock to performing with him. Who are some other heroes of yours, that you have had the honour of working with?
I was in a hip hop group called The Procussions and we had a chance to open for a lot of our heroes. A Tribe Called Quest being one of them as well as Redman, Methodman, De la Soul, The Roots. We almost checked off everyone in terms of people we wanted to open for. In the last year or two I have had the honour of getting to meet these people and have spent a considerable amount of time with them. Working with The Roots in the studio for a week and Electric Lady out in New York. Meeting the guys from De La Soul, Jazzy Jeff and a few others. It has been a real blessing to be able to collaborate and pick the brains of some of my heroes.
Has spending time with your heroes become a new normal for you?
I don’t know if it is normal. I tell my friends that I have known for years, that there are these moments when you are around people who you revere and you forget that they are super heroes. I have a couple friends at home, that I will spend time with. We’ll hang out, watch sports, go out to eat and it’s not until I’m in the studio with them or a show, that I remember that oh yeah this guy is Superman. I’ve been hanging around Clark Kent all day, but I forget that he can fly and can see through walls.
Do you think that learning to play live gives you a better understanding of how to make beats than sequencing?
I don’t know if it gives me more of an understanding than it does inspiration and ideas. The same way a live band will improvise a song they play a million times live, I will do the same when performing in a live set. You know I may have created some piece of music, but when I’m performing it, I might get a different idea. Like this would have been cool if I did this in the original recording. So it gives me ideas if I want to go back and change some things if I haven’t released the track, or provide ideas of things I can apply the the next time I make something with a similar feel. So whether it be a little fill in here or a little switch up there, I can now apply this to the track I’m making. That way I think it’s more about being inspired and motivated to expand on what I’ve already done.
So through playing live you are able to generate a catalogue of ideas in your mind faster that can be applied to future tracks?
How does finger drumming affect your workflow in the studio?
For me it definitely enables me to get the idea out faster. You don’t have to stop every four bars or every eight bars. You can kind of just do what I call have a ‘jam session with yourself’. I will play around and be like okay that’s a cool sequence or chord structure, lets add a bass line to it, then I will just have a jam to it (on the pads), until something feels right or good over that track. Otherwise it would take me longer as I would have to sit there with a kick, a snare, a hi hat and if I do not like it I would have to repeat that process. As opposed to being able to play to it, until something feels good.
When I watched you ‘jam with yourself’ I saw the Ableton Session had three minutes worth of MIDI from you playing drums. From there is it a matter of going through what you played and taking the best four to eight bars?
Yeah exactly that. I will find a section that fits. Sometimes it will not be exact but it will be close. Then it will a matter of me replaying it or physically drawing or shifting things around until it feels the way I want it to feel. Technology.
I read in a past interview that you know how to play piano, guitar, trumpet & drums. Is that true?
The first instrument I was actually taught to play was the trumpet. Which was in middle school. This was because it was less noisy than drums for my parents. However my parents probably regretted that as trumpet is not very quiet either. I played it for 4-5 years. My father being in the military meant we moved to Germany for a while. Due to moving around a lot I did not have all my papers at the school. So they had no record of the instruments I played previously. So when the teacher asked me what I played I said ‘drums’. I figured this would be my chance to finally play the drums. By the time he figured out that I played trumpet he gave me the choice between drums or trumpet. At first I chose trumpet but eventually went back to drumming after more of the other students left. After this my mother bought me a keyboard when I was 16. I was self taught with that instrument. I learned primarily through first learning a few chords and then learning by ear. I liked Jazz Fusion stuff and early soul, from their I would analyse the songs I liked and pick apart the chords that I wanted to play. The guitar I was given by Granddad at around the same time. I spent a summer with him in the Midwest and found his guitar in the basement, he never used it but said it was a gift from a friend. I kept picking away at it, but it only had three strings. So to this day, what I know on Guitar is very basic. But I feel like I can thumb around on the guitar enough to get the idea out if needed. As a kid that was what I was into, I just wanted to get my hands on anything that made noise. Anything music related.
What influenced your passion for music at a young age? Was it a certain moment or person?
There was just something about music. I come from a family that is not musical. No one in my family played anything or sang. There are members of my family who are tone deaf, and can’t dance. So I was definitely the odd ball that came out of nowhere. However my parents knew I liked music and continued to play music as I grew up. But it was probably not until I was much older that they realised how serious I was about it. I’ve always felt like, without getting too deep that there must be a God because there is no reason for me to have this strong a desire to make music without anyone in my family playing music. I’ve always found this interesting as most of the musicians I’ve met come from pretty musical backgrounds, either their parents played or had a group friends they came up with that played.
So you have a big interest in music, you are learning a lot of different instruments. What happens next?
Because I was such an introvert as a kid, my parents and family did not recognise my passion for music until a lot later. I didn’t share it with anyone. They knew I liked it and would ask them for instruments, however they didn’t initially realise it was something that I would want to turn into a career. It was not until high school that I got active about it and found other people to play with and started doing things in talent shows. Those opportunities came from people I met at school or summer jobs. We would get together and jam, which kind of set a trend for me to find people that were artistic or created music and try to create a vibe from that standpoint.
So how long was it until you went from playing music at high school to touring with The Procussions?
It did take a minute. It was about three years until I met the initial members of Procussions. We had met before that but it was more of a hobby. They knew I messed around but it was not something we started to take serious until about 98/99. We came up with the name and started doing shows together and that has snowballed into a career.
And you have been on that trajectory since?
Absolutely that has been my whole life every since. I have never really had a Plan B for myself. Much to the worry of my mother. She is very happy and proud of what I am doing now but there was a period where her and my father did worry. No one wants to have the Bohemian kid that bounces from couch to couch and any doesn’t have any sure income and that whole scenario. But I think for myself knowing that I had no Plan B, forced me to find a way to make it work. This was the reason why I connected so much with another member of the group (The Procussions) Mr Jay, who is doing the same thing now and has many different outlets. I think we were the two people in the group that did not plan for anything else. This made me take things more serious and be grateful for the opportunities that have come my way.
Did you ever doubt?
Yeah. There was a time I had really huge hair, soul patch hanging from my chin. After the group disbanded initially I was down and out. I cut my hair and got a real 9 to 5 for a minute. I worked for GUESS Jeans in Los Angeles. It was more or less a customer service type role, I answered phones and helped people with their orders. However the odd thing was I got fired during my training. I was like “who gets fired during their training. I’m learning to do the job and how could you get fired for learning”. But afterwards I had a very interesting conversation with my brother, I remember ranting and raving “I can’t believe they fired me. Here I am trying to do the right thing, trying to get my life together, getting a legitimate job, cut my hair and this happens”. Interestingly my brother was actually really mad at me he said “I don’t feel like that is what you are put here for, this is not was your calling. Everyone else can get 9 to 5’s but you are made for something more than that. So whether that means you got to work harder on the music thing or create a different circle of people around you. There needs to be something more you can do.” It turns out he was right.
Did you switch up your approach after this?
I did. It happened slowly. But the way I did it was treat my passion for music as a 9-5 job if you will. Making sure there was a certain level of productivity everyday, whether it turned into something or not. I went through the motions of making music and hitting certain targets. In relation to finding the right people, that happened more organically. I decided to go out in LA more, meeting more musicians and participating in different circles. The Procussions would eventually start working again and put out another album, but even in with that happening I would continue to be a working musician and connect with other like minded people as much as possible. They say a lot of the time in the industry that ‘who you know’ is more valuable than how talented you are, and I would say that has served me well. I’ve got a lot of opportunities based on my relationships with people and that is something I continue to do. I feel like I continue to create these opportunities to meet people who are influential but also just good people. So we can hang out outside of music as well.
What would you say to someone who has been inspired by your videos, bought a controller and are just starting?
I would be honest and tell him that the biggest thing in music for me was being a really big listener. I was nerdy in the essence I would read every line and note, I would watch people. Now days that is a lot easier than it was back in the day. There are a lot more resources with Youtube at people’s disposal to do this. So I would probably start there. Watch the people who are doing what it is that inspires you. But it is important to start from the standpoint of listening. Because as much as I would be honoured that someone would like to make music like me, it is also much more important that people develop their own style and sound. Just as I was influenced by someone and took it to a different place, I would hope this person starting out would do the same.
Today you made your first Melodics lesson. I was privileged enough to watch you make it from scratch. Can you tell us about the lesson and give some pointers on how to play the lesson?
Well it was good that I was given guidance on the tempo. Because I often feel I would struggle to be a teacher. I tend to start at Level 5 without releasing I need to teach Level 1-4 first. Initially I was like I would make something in odd meter time and just go nuts. But being given the number of 100 BPM was helpful as it gave me a vibe to start. While working through it chord wise I knew I wanted to make something that was simple to follow, but still felt good and that allowed me to be open with the drums and the way they are played. I knew going into it that if I made something a bit too muddled up, a lot can be lost in translation about what is going on with the drums and the rest of the music. With that said the overall process centered around making something in my own style that was simple but still interesting for people to play.
Could you give a brief description of the way that you layout your drums on the pads?
Well it is interesting in this particular lesson you get to see where I came from and where I am at now. In the live video you will see I have a lot tighter set up, with everything bunched together. Which came from the fact that I used to use the MPD pads from Akai that only had 16 pads. The pads were much bigger so it did not feel as tight. So with the initial part of the video the pads are arranged in this much tighter set. You know you have the kick right next to the snare, hi hat next to the snare, a clap above that and maybe what I call a snare ghost note under the snare. Now what I have found is that I have been able to open up my set up. On my live kit, you will see that I have the hi-hats on the outside of the pads. The kicks and snares are all below that as well as the toms and the cymbals and all the other bells and whistles on top. It kind of mimics the way I play the drum kit, you know having things in a open flow, even though it is me using two limbs instead of four. I like being comfortable and having a flow of feeling like I can go anywhere from the hi hat standpoint. So my set up being hi hats on the outside, kicks and snares below allows me to sort of have a natural flow with my two fingers.
Do your finger drumming skills help with other instruments when you are producing tracks in the studio?
I had an instance about a week ago. Where I was helping a friend of mine by laying down some guitar. I noticed that I did feel a little bit looser, than the previous times I had played on guitar. I remember there were a couple licks, where I was like that’s surprising, I couldn’t do that before. So maybe unconsciously there could be a benefit to me utilising my fingers more through playing with the pads. This could be potentially opening up the way I play keys as well as guitar. So there may be a connection there.
What does the rest of 2017 have install for you?
I hope there’s more music ahead in terms of creating it and playing it live. As of now that seems to be the case. I have always liked travelling and there’s already plans for more shows stateside and potentially overseas, so I am really excited to be doing that. Hopefully I will be releasing a new project by the end of 2017 as well which would be cool.
We never said it would be easy! Getting those 3 stars can be a struggle, so we’ve put together a guide to the best way to tackle a lesson in Melodics. The aim is that by following this guide, you will not only be able to three star the lesson, you’ll be able to play it freestyle without any assistance from Melodics.
You might want to apply this to each step in the lesson – or just the tricky ones!
Step 1: Select your lesson
It may seem obvious, but take a moment to think about why you pick a lesson. Is it in a genre you want to learn? Do you like the sound of the lesson? Are you working toward building a particular skill or technique? The key is to have an outcome to work towards, it will help you to stay motivated! Part 2: Check out the pad layout.
The first stage of the lesson will be in the preplay screen. Start by playing each pad, and work out what sample is on each pad. Switch between the pad labels and finger allocation [screenshot] to see which fingers to use on each pad. Bear in mind that if you’re playing a low grade lesson, the finger allocations might be designed so that you can play other parts later in the higher grade version.
Part 3: Preview the beat.
Hit the preview button [little Screen shot], and have a listen. Get a feel for the groove, watch the pads lighting up, and familiarise yourself with the basic pattern. Now your ready for your first attempt. Hit the Play button [little screen shot]
Part 4. Figure Out The Pattern.
Welcome to the Play screen. Step four is all about figuring out the pattern of the lesson. Don’t worry about getting through the whole thing on the first pass, just spend some time figuring out the arrangement. Before you start, hit each pad, and watch which line lights up. This will give you a visual reference and help you to associate each pad with the track in the play screen. Start, and make the first attempt to play along. Restart often!
Part 5. Using Practice Mode
By now you should have the basic feel for the beat – but actually playing it is another story. This is where practice mode comes in. Switch to practice mode [screen shot], and play through a few times with the tempo turned right down. If there is a particularly tricky part, you might want to set a loop to concentrate on that part.
When you feel like you’re starting to get it, turn on Auto BPM. This will ramp up the BPM each time you “pass” the arrangement.
At this point, it’s largely about just putting in the reps. If you’re not getting it, dont sweat it too much. Each time you play through it, you’re building muscle memory. You might find that when you come back to practice the next day, your first pass is much better!
Pro Tip: Combine Loop and Auto BPM. Each time you pass the loop, the BPM will increase, so you’ll get there faster with a smaller loop than playing the entire arrangement.
Part 6: Back to perform mode.
By this stage, you should be reasonably comfortable, and getting 1 star at least some of the time. Time to switch it up!
Stop looking at the screen.
Look down at the pads, focus on your fingers. Some hardware has pad lighting, so you get feedback directly under your feedback. Again, this stage is all about reps.
Part 7. A little less help.
Getting it? But can you play the beat without the help of Melodics? Next up, go back to the Preplay screen, and drop out the Metronome and the Guide Notes [screenshot]. Now you’re just playing along to the backing track. Again, try looking away from the screen, and just play to the backing track, and clock up some reps.
Part 8. Back to preplay.
Go back to the preplay screen, so you have the samples on the pads, and absolutely no assistance from Melodics. Can you still play it? If not, go back a step, and get some more reps in.
Part 9. The true test.
Time for the ultimate test – load up some similar samples into your music production platform of choice, and record yourself playing the same pattern. How does it sound?
If you’re a Melodics subscriber, or if you’ve referred a friend via Melodics, you’ve probably received a set of the samples used in the Melodics lessons. Put these to the test – see if you can recreate the beat playing it live in your production software or sampler.
Extra For Experts: Finish your track
So there you have it, 9 steps to get you mastering more lessons in Melodics. Treat these tips as your framework to getting better, but remember there is no substitute to putting in the reps. The more attempts you take the faster your skills will develop. Happy practicing.
I thought a good way to start would be with your twitter bio which says “Creator, curator and story teller”. Are you able to explain what these words mean to you a bit more?
For sure, I’ll answer them one by one.
Creator: I’m a creative junkie. Producing music happens to be the most popular thing I’m into at the moment, but I’m lowkey a photographer and graphic/web designer as well.
Curator: As musician I listen to a ton music and as a photo geek I come across sooo many images. That research led me to start collecting and over time curation. I want to start merging the two at some point with an audio/visual live set.
Storyteller: In my mind that’s what all this is. The intent with anything I create is to take you on a journey, convey a feeling or mind state or to put it simple, tell a story.
The pinned tweet at the top of your twitter profile says “The homie @stlndrms is the Bob Ross of this lofi ish. “I think we’ve found what we want, now let’s make a beat…” That is pretty high praise as Bob Ross is an amazing individual. Explain what that tweet meant to you and the significance of Bob Ross in your life?
1. Bob ross is the man.2. I always admired his artistic process and how he would effortlessly create from a blank canvas in such a short time. I used to watch his show like every week when I was a kid. So when someone compared me to that guy I had to pin it.
Keeping on the Bob Ross track for another question. I understand you are a big anime fan. One of my favorite anime/television moments has to be the Boondocks scene when Bob Ross and Huey escape from the police. What are your favorite anime scenes or shows?
My favorite anime moment ever, is from an episode of Gurren Lagan. When Kamina says “You have eyes in the front of your head for a reason. Keep moving forward.” I legit think of that quote at least once a day.
On to the beat making. Describe what turned you from a listener of music into a beat maker? Was there a particular song or person that made you take that leap?
I had an uncle that ran a music store in Detroit when I was a kid. The store was popular and he was an influencer in the scene so he knew all the artists that would come through the city on tour. He used to drop off promo copies of everything at the house and I would play it all. Outkast, the Roots, Redman, Black moon, E40 and all that. He was my biggest personal musical influence. I remember beatboxing and rapping in his car in like elementary school, some of my earliest memories. If you ask my mom she’ll tell you I was a musician before I could walk. That’s a good bit before I can remember though.
What were you like when you started out making beats? How long was it until you started making the kind of beats you wanted?
Honestly I wanted to be Premo at first, Then DJ Quick, Then Dilla. Dilla was more an admiration than a “want to be like” however… But I digress, It took me some time (years) to get a consistent sound. To be real however, I still haven’t been able to fully articulate what I hear in my mind. I’m having fun trying though.
I found your work through your show “beats + chill” and I have to admit I’m hooked. There is nothing like it out there on the internet. Where did your idea for the concept come from and have you been amazed by the how much traction it has gained already?
It pretty much came from me wanting to share the creative experience with my friends. I’m in a big metro but I stay in the suburbs so people don’t like to drive out to where I am to work/chill. So I’m kind of “silo’ed” off on the day to day. I figured I’d live stream me making beats and we could go from there. Then I saw thousands of people were watching it so I did what I could to make it professional. I’m still confused as to how it got this big. I love it though and I’m going to do everything I can to keep it going on and upward for sure.
How do you see “beats + chill” developing over the next few months? Are there any surprises users can look forward to?
Relationships and joint venture stuff for sure. I can see BEATS+CHILL sessions eventually popping up over several platforms and possibly in a few live venues maybe even with some guests from time to time. My endgame is to take this show on the road. I want to hang out and create / play music with people all over the world man.
Your setup for the show is very cool and so is the gear you use. Are you able to explain your setup and briefly what each device does?
Sure, The hub is an Akai MPC2000xl and/or Native Instruments Maschine I do almost all my production work with those. The other gear the Roland SP303 and SP404 are for compression and distortion (303) and for playing live and adding stutters and glitches (404). Add to that a thrift store EQ and tape player (15$ a piece) and you have my sound in a nutshell…
You always release music with that lo-fi feel and are very much entrenched in that community. Who are some other lo-fi artists you are currently listening to?
Soooo many man, I’ll do you one better. For lo-fi stuff, go grab everything from every artist on the following collectives: Natural Selection, NINETOFIVE records, O-nei-ric Tapes, and Chillhop records. That’ll get you started. One time for these guys and all the other lo-fi collectives out there putting in work man.
What advice can you give to other aspiring beatmakers looking to make music like you?
Make a million beats. Than make a million more. I’ve legit lost over a 1000 beats at this point. I’ve had to sell about 20k worth of gear over my time producing to get by or make ends meet. I’ve used so many diff pieces and diff programs and they are all great but honestly, they have nothing to do with your sound. I know dudes who use all hardware and dudes who only use an IPad. They are all amazing. If you want to establish your sound there are no shortcuts. The 10,000 hr rule is in full effect. Lucky for you though music is about the most rewarding and fun thing you can do with your time if you love it. So yea make a million beats and keep moving forward. (1 time for Kamina-san)
Finally I checked out your vs.co page and saw your photos from your time in Japan? Are you planning on taking any other trips overseas this year?
Nothing on the books yet but my passport is ready. Say the word and I’m on a plane.
I wanted to take a second to say thank you guys so much for this opportunity and to let you know that the App you put together is awesome. Timing is everything in HipHop and there’s nothing like drums that sit in the pocket like they’re supposed to. Melodics is one of the best tools I’ve seen so far outside of just making beats to train yourself to stay in the pocket. Great work guys.
You are well known for the amazing finger drumming videos you do on Maschine. When did you first purchase Maschine. What inspired you to make this purchase?
I first purchased Maschine when I was 16. I knew about it for a while before I got it, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it when I saw it in person.
Did finger drumming come naturally to you? What is your musical background?
It didn’t come naturally. I mean I had a sense of rhythm because I’ve messed around on the drums and percussion here and there, but hard work and dedication were the two things that got me to where I am today.
The lesson you have made is called “PTM Level 1”. Tell us about the Persian Trap sound and how it is connected to your roots. Where do you see this genre going in the future?
The Persian Trap sound is how I bring culture to Trap. I think culture, Persian or not, is such a vital thing to have in music. There is such a strong culture behind Persian music that puts non Persians in a new world when experiencing it. And I put my heart and soul into bringing this same cultural feeling to modern trap music.
Can you explain what Melodics users can look forward learning to in your new lesson?
I hope those who strive to be where I am today get inspired to work their butt off in melodics. If I had such a tool to start from, I’d be on it 24/7. Melodics is literally guitar hero for beat pads, but you’re learning and getting more skilled the entire time.
What made you want to get involved with Melodics?
The simplicity of the interface, the quality of the website, and the passionate people that make up the company is what made me want to get involved.
In mid 2016 some of your work went viral. Including a video of you mashing up the Spongebob Squarepants theme with Kanye West’s ‘I Love Kanye’, and making a trap remix out of the Rugrats theme song. Where did you get the inspiration for these ideas? How has it affected your career since?
It’s crazy how viral these videos went. I just love making music, even if it’s some dumb mashup. People know I’m doing these things for fun. It has definitely been a journey since Spongebob Kanye. I’m just glad people were actually taking the time to check out my real music.
Name your three biggest artistic influences?
Mura Masa, Travis Scott, Shahram Nazeri
What advice would you give to someone who has just started producing music?
Just. Keep. Producing.
What does 2017 have install for ASADI?
2017 is going to be crazy. I have many songs to release along with festival shows all around the map. 2017 is by far going to be the best year yet.
Need new sounds for your production library? Well you are in luck. Our friends over at Sellfy present the Sellfy Music Production Bundle. Including premium sounds from Decap, Evil Needle, Danyal, Brightest Dark Place, Juku and Steklo Acapella this bundle is essential for aspiring producers.
In the bundle you will get:
– 8 Drum kits
– 2 Massive presets packs
– 2 Sample packs
– 7 Vocals
– 1 Stem pack
All these products come with Sellfy Music license, which means everything inside can be used completely for your creations.
Special Offer For Melodics Users
This pack is usually priced at $260 but is currently available at $25 for a the next 24 hours.
After months of requests we are proud to announce that our brand new feature Courses is here.
Courses are curated paths through Melodics lessons – covering genres, techniques, musical concepts, and more! We think that this new addition will give users a new way to structure their learning and build skills faster.
Introduction to Melodics
Get started with Melodics & finger drumming. This course will lead you through a selection of our free content, covering a range of genres & techniques. Start growing your skills, get a feel for what you like… and what you need work on!
Hip Hop Basics
The realness, the foundation. Take a short trip through Hip Hop history covering breaks, boom bap and soulful beats.
Subscriber Only Courses
The Evolution of Hip Hop
From break sampling, golden-era boom bap, and neo-soul, through to future beats, trap, and more – play your way through Hip Hop’s history in this course.
Separating your hands & fingers to play complex arrangement is a huge turning point in getting better at finger drumming – this course walks you through lessons which allow you to build this necessary skill, skipping between genres, BPMs, and exercises.
Off the grid
Put some wonk in it. Part of finger drumming is building up a feeeeeeel for the track – do those hats need to sit back a bit? Would that bassline work better dragging? Play this course and challenge yourself to make it work when it’s not exactly on-grid.
Cue Point drumming for DJs
Flip tracks, create dramatic build ups, and take your DJ set next level. Cue Point drumming is taking off with mixers like the Pioneer S9 and NI Z2 becoming increasingly popular – build the skills you need to master this surprisingly difficult technique.
This is only the beginning with more courses scheduled to arrive in the upcoming weeks. If you have any ideas for a course let us know via the Feedback section in the Melodics app.
In our second ever instalment of Beat Breakthrough we talk with San Francisco based producer Decap. When it comes to making beats Decap goes way back making his start at just 13 years of age. Find out about three beats that have shaped Decap’s progression as a producer.
What is the oldest or one of the older beats that you can find? Tell us the story behind it.
Beat Name: “Believing in D.E.A.T.H.”
I made this beat in the summer of 2000 at age 15 when I started getting serious about making beats. I made the drums in a really old version of Fruity Loops and recorded the sample chops on my Boss SP-202 into Cool Edit 96. I can’t remember the exact sample, but it was off a record I bought at a local flea market.
A beat that represents a turning point in your production career?
Beat Name: Feeling
I made the skeleton of this beat in 2014 in like 10 minutes. I ended up releasing it as a single in 2015 (after spending 3 months tweaking it), alongside a video of me performing it on Push with Ableton. I feel like this track helped solidify my solo music career. A transition from behind the scenes producer, to artist and live performer.
The latest song or beat you are most proud of. And why?
Beat Name: Wake Up!
I just made this beat this year. I feel like the music, sonic quality, and quirkiness represents where I want to take my sound. I’m proud of this track
Polish DJ 69Beats won this years Red Bull Thre3style Poland Championship with an incredible set that involved classic turntablism, live remixing, tone play and finger drumming. While only young he has been in the game for a long time rocking shows and Festivals in Poland since 2008. Late last year 69Beats became a Melodics user and immediately captured our attention with a series of videos he put out on social media. We wanted to speak with him about his DJ journey so far and how Melodics has helped him improve his craft a long the way.
When did you start Djing? What/who inspired you to begin?
I started learning in 2006. Although the music was always in my life – my mom and older brother play the piano, dad plays the guitar and I finished musical school playing piano as well – the DJing came into my life with a total impulse. Even though I loved to party I never thought about DJing. But one day I went to a party at my friends house and her brother was a DJ. When she showed me his room with all the DJ gear standing there I was like… dang… that’s something I want to learn. Like the love at first sight. It didn’t even cross my mind that I could do this for a living someday, I just wanted to learn this.
How did you discover Melodics and what made you download the app?
I was into the fingerdrumming for quite some time before discovering Melodics, but didn’t have the gear to learn it properly. I just had some samples loaded into my DVS and was trying to come up with my own patterns that worked for me at the parties. And when Melodics came out I happened upon the video of Eskei83 where he played one of the basic lessons. And again I was like – I need to have this! I’m totally into the video games and apps that make a real challenge, and this challenge is measurable. Melodics has it all – the fun, the challenge, and on top of all – you learn a real thing, not only score points for hitting the right buttons on your gaming controller.
Back in 2015 you sent through to us a video of you playing Funk Bass on Melodics. How long did it take you to learn to play that lesson?
I enjoyed this lesson so much that when I started it I just couldn’t stop, but it was also very exhausting for my head. Spinscott has very cool patterns, they might seem really hard to learn for the first time, but they are also very smart, so when you learn it for the first time f.e. with Funk Bass, the other Spinscotts lessons aren’t that hard to play. So Funk Bass was the first one of his lessons for me and it took me like 2 or 3 days to get to 3 stars
What is the best thing about learning with Melodics so far?
>The best thing for me is that skills aquired with it can be easly used in real DJing environment – in the club, during a performance etc. – Melodics helps a lot with exploring your own creativity and building self confidence on the pads.
You entered and won the Red Bull Thre3style Poland this year. Was this your first time entering this competition? How did Melodics help with your preparations
Actually that was my second attempt at RB3S. First time was in 2015 and it didn’t really play out as I planned. When Melodics came out it was a total game changer for me. I left all other training for a few weeks just to play it. I wanted my Thre3style set to be as versatile as possible and there were no better way to gain necessary skill on the pads than Melodics.
Talk us through your winning set. There is so much going in terms of creativity. How long did it take you to put it all together and what was your creative process?
So as I said I entered Thre3style in 2015, but everything was happening really fast then and there was not much time for preparations. I didn’t make it to the Polish final, but took a lesson and decided to start preparations for 2016 since the moment I dropped out. I began to write down every single idea for routines that I came up with. Whether it was using a short single sample or creating some long transitions – I was writing down everything. Then I was testing all those ideas at home and finally if they felt good – I tried them in the clubs. So when RB3S 2016 was announced I just opened up my notebook, chose the best routines and started wondering what will be the best way to build a set with them. I didn’t have a problem with building a 15 minute set. My problem was fitting all my ideas into the 15 minutes so it won’t go any longer
You have The Red Bull Thre3style World Finals coming up in Chile later this year. How are you feeling before this event and what can we expect to see more of from you performance wise?
I feel very motivated and just can’t wait too perform before the Thre3style community again. To be true I don’t even know what can I expect from myself. I’m the type of guy that changes everything till the very last moment, so it can be everything. For now I’m focusing on my basic technique, so I hope that my sets on the finals will be more “clear”. What else will happen? I guess we’ll have to wait till December
Any words you want to give to all the Melodics users out there?
Sure! Always have fun with Melodics, don’t give up, don’t underestimate yourself and don’t underestimate Melodics itself. It’s a powerfull tool that can make a huge difference in your performances. Don’t be afraid to use the skill gained with Melodics at your gigs it really works. And remember that everybody loves skillful fingers.