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.

Jul 15

Live Evil Interview: Talk About How They Met And Performing Live

by in Melodics, New Lesson Tuesdays, Pro Tips

Vancouver electronic music duo Live Evil are back with their second Melodics lesson “Tell Me”. We are able to ask Matt Perry a few questions about the lesson and how Live Evil got started.

Where did the name ‘Live Evil’ originate? Is there a story behind it?

I was always fascinated with the Miles Davis album of this name and the trippy artwork on the cover, i’d even sampled it for a beat back in the day. The way its a reflection of the word LIVE fit what we were doing performance wise and as “The Freshest Live sets”. It was also a way to identify the projects sound and concept so as not to confuse it with the Freshest remixes and mix tapes we had been doing. I feel it gave us more direction too.

You guys started a series of Youtube videos called ‘The Freshest Live Set’ with your friends Seco and Rico Uno what was the inspiration behind starting these videos?

We all used to perform at shows. Sometimes 2 at a time. We had a gig at the 2011 Vancouver Red Bull Thre3style world finals opening for Peanut butter Wolf and wanted to put something together to really showcase what we could do. From there I came up with the idea to incorporate musical instruments in there too, it wasn’t happening much at the time and seemed like a waste to not utilize these synths I had, so from there it grew in to what we have done for the last 6? of them.

How did you guys first meet? How long was it until you collaborated?

We met in 2004. I was making rap beats and Marvel was DJing for a rap group I produced for.

When describing the Live Evil experience you guys said “We want to bring that feeling you get when you see a band perform, but in a DJ context. Lots of energy, a real performance with a sinister vibe.” Are able to elaborate on how you prepare for each set and how your performances have evolved?

We spend a lot of time breaking down songs we like into parts that we can remix, then start arranging them in a live performance rehearsal. These days, we are focusing more on breaking down our original productions and making our own songs. Remixing is super fun, but it has limitations, copyright wise 😉

Explain how you got involved with Melodics and what you guys like most about the software?

I met Melodics head honcho Sam Gribben through my Job, and he’s easily one of the best humans I know, he’s a visionary and I believe in what he’s doing with Melodics. What I like most is Melodics makes interacting with music fun and challenging for everyone from beginners to pro’s. Its inspiring to see how the lessons are broken down. Rap and Dance music is our generations Rock n Roll (to quote Kanye) and i think Melodics is a modern way to approach learning music and developing your rhythm.

 

How have you seen finger drumming develop as a whole over the past few years? Where do you see it going?

I have! It’s being adopted by most leading dj’s and its exciting. Its so much more than pushing buttons. If you are musical, its really remixing and performing music the way you want to hear it. There is so much more interaction, i’m totally inspired by all the new people picking it up, from dj’s to beat makers. So cool to see the combination of melody and rhythm and harmony all combined with Djing, because we have kinda seen Scratching go about as far as it could go. Its the future for sure!

 

You have both been on record discussing the growing Electronic Music scene in Vancouver. Dropping names like Pomo, Ekali, Pat Lok & U-Tern. If you could give someone three tracks to get an idea of the emerging sound of Vancouver what would they be?

Joseph L’Etranger just moved to Toronto but we can claim him still

Juelz on the come up 

Shaunic

These guys are all from the Chapel collective, which would be in my opinion the crew i’m checking for the most. But there is lots of great dance music coming out of Vancouver too with labels like “Mood Hut” and “1080p” The latter actually started by a Caniwi like myself

What does the rest of 2016 have install for Live Evil?

Planning a new performance video and an Ep for 2016. Definitely focussed on putting out more music!

What is the best piece of advice you can give to aspiring producers and DJ’s?

Find your sound, stick with it and go hard. Stay focussed and work hard, this game ain’t for the faint hearted

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