How did you get started in beatmaking, what drew you to this genre of music?
I’ve always been interested in the process behind something. I wanted to be the doer rather than the one who hears, sees or uses it. I used to work as a DJ in the electronic dance music genre. And there, too, it was the case that I would rather be the one who makes people dance in the club than the one who dances to the music. It was also clear to me for a long time that I would rather be the producer. Since my brother used to work as a music producer in the EDM sector, I was already able to gather insights and impressions and of course I was totally served by it. Having been skateboarding for over 20 years, the bridge to this type of music has always been there. I grew up with an older brother as a kid in the 90s, so the connection to hip hop from that time was there early on. In 2013 a good friend and I made a deal that said we would do beats from then on. No matter what direction. So I’ve been dealing with beatmaking/producing since then. Of course it took me a while to find my sound and niche. At some point I was interested in how the beat of “Hip Hop Hooray” came about and who produced it. And that was it… with a little Google research, I came across the WhoSampled website. Who had shown me the insight into the world of sampling. From that point on, I was completely driven by the golden era of hip hop and everything that came with it. I knew immediately that this is exactly what my heart beats for. And so I started to care more about it.
When you’re producing a beat, would you be able to share with us a bit on how the creative process looks?
I mostly dig through jazzy and/or soulful songs, which often form the basis of my sound. At 90%, I start by finding and creating the sample. The moment I hear the first Rhodes chords or pianos and I’m about to chop certain passages in my own way, I already have a rough idea in my head in which direction the beat should go or could develop.
First I build the hook around that. Whether drums, horns, etc.. When the hook is set, I start with the arrangement and try to set the sounds in such a way that the listener has a listening pleasure. However, if the beat is intended for a rapper, I make sure that the vocals have enough space and the beat isn’t too packed, since the artist fills a lot with his rap or singing. When the “creative” process is done, I start with the mixing/sound design of the song. I prefer to produce in the morning. My head feels fresh and has room for a lot of creativity.
Who are some of your biggest musical influences – and how have they shaped your sound?
I think one of the biggest influences on my music and style has been Pete Rock. With the “grain ingredients & INI – Center of attention”, he hit my taste exactly. The way he chopped and processed the samples, created the soulful and jazzy sound and created this vibe, which for me characterizes this typical 90s style, grabbed me immediately and shaped my sound. Due to my experience in the field of electronic dance music, you will probably find a few elements or traces in my songs. When it comes to how I bring in variety, breaks, etc. But since I listen to all kinds of music and I’m open to it, I’m like a sponge that absorbs everything I like and lets it inspire me.
Your music has been described as a very distinct style. How would you describe your sound to someone who’s never heard it before?
Jazzy, soulful & melodic, but still with the typical rough touch of 90s hip hop/boom bap. A rather clean mixing style that still tries to keep the analog and the warmth of the hardware and the samples used from the past.
Can you tell us about any upcoming collaborations you have in the works, and what excites you about working with these producers?
I don’t want to name them all to keep the excitement going… But there are some collaborations with KLIM Beats that I’m always very proud to have this opportunity with an artist like him. An EP with P.Diggedy is also planned. One of the guys who have accompanied me on my journey for a long time and with whom I have wanted to work for a long time. A new single with Homage, one of my role models, will come out in the beautiful summertime and will bring the corresponding vibe.
There are also singles coming up that are in collaboration with artists like Hydrogenii (which I’ve been waiting for for a long time and I’m really looking forward to), Damaa Beats, Mobsta Mane and many more… I really like collaborating with other artists. Because no matter how often you do it, you always learn something new. Whether it’s about processes, production techniques or even things to do with the music, such as choosing the cover, etc. When two worlds come together, magic always happens!
How do you approach collaborations when making music with someone else? Do you have any particular strategies or techniques you like to use?
Basically, every collaboration is individual. Each artist usually has a different and unique approach. But with most collaborations it turned out that it was decided at the beginning who was more interested in drums & arrangements or sample selection, chopping etc. Somehow this approach turned out to be a relaxed and free way. So, so to speak, everyone brought in the same share. Nevertheless, I am and would be open to new techniques and processes. It’s always exciting and thrilling how the next single will come about with a different artist.
Since you’re making a lot of beats both on your own and with other producers, can you talk about any challenges or obstacles you’ve faced as a beatmaker – and how you’ve overcame them?
Whether alone or in a collaboration, I think you can always experience the “creative hole”. And if you still have a deadline nagging you, it can get stressful. But since making music is a matter close to my heart, which I love more than anything, I try to avoid negative feelings or stress. I think that self-confidence plays a big role in such cases. I then always try to make myself aware of what I can do and that I have always reached my goal so far. Among other things, you lose yourself from time to time in “overthinking”. In the sense of tinkering with a sound for too long and/or being too self-critical of yourself. Often less is just more. When it comes to collaborations, two different artists meet each other trying to create something. This can sometimes cause a lengthy process. But as I said before, I see it more as a challenge than a problem or anything like that. And then there’s the technology… Sometimes it gives you the biggest headache. Whether it’s setting up a new computer/laptop, installing plug-ins or dealing with new devices, it can be quite time-consuming and nerve-wracking.
Being really active has both its ups and downs, is there any advice you have for younger producers that might get stuck in a creative block?
As I mentioned above, being in a creative block can happen. When this happens to me, I try not to take it too seriously. Because after every low, there is also a high.
Distance is good too. Having nothing to do with music at all can free you up and boost your creativity and energy. That’s how I just listen to songs that impress me. As soon as I hear them, I can hardly wait to produce them again myself. Getting inspiration, so to speak, wherever that may be.
Having a bad day can often affect creativity, so I just let it be. Because I don’t want to lose the fun and love in the process. But basically, I always try to approach things positively and think positively. That makes everything easier and can take the pressure off.
How has your music evolved over time, and where do you see your sound going in the future?
I think my music has become more melodic. Since I’ve grooved more into the jazzy and soulful realm, my sound also reflects this warmth. Which doesn’t mean that I don’t still carry the classic rough rugged and raw style inside me and can also carry it to the outside through my music. Where do I see my sound in the future? This melodic, jazzy and soulful basis will probably continue to exist in my music. But I always want to develop further and be open to new things. That’s why I want to play melodies myself in the near future and create my own samples, so to speak. I try not to limit myself in my head and not set boundaries so that I can go in any direction, even if I use a genre I love as a base.
What advice would you give to aspiring beatmakers or producers who are just starting out?
Try everything! Find your style, find your direction and become a master at it. Works in a structured and organized manner. Be aware of what your goal is and/or where you want to go. Do everything with love, because then nothing is a waste. You get out what you put in. Find one or more role models and see how they are doing or have done so far. Never lose your fascination with anything. Learn how to use your DAW, MPC or whatever your choice. Because only then can you implement what you have in mind the way you want it. Love and trust the process!
Since we’ve worked together now on a few releases, is there any news for the Ninetofive listeners regarding your upcoming music?
I would like to publish more of my own projects in the future. Of course, as mentioned above, there will be some collaborations.