The Lengths We Go With Beat-Making
Updated: Dec 30, 2021
Have you ever been locked in a thrift store looking for vinyl records, because you were tucked in the corner and the staff completely forgot you were there? Well, we have, and probably will have to tell that story via social media. However, the gist of the story is that, we will spend the time and the energy to look for the perfect sample, even if it puts us in some awkward situations. We call it the “Art of Diggin’” and when you find the sample you’ve been diggin’ for, you simply say, “YEAH!”
This is what happened one day when we were eating lunch in the studio. Our “Dizzy” track was already arranged, drums were knockin’, the bass hittin’, snare drum poppin’, but something was still missing. While enjoying our Jersey Mike’s Subs (No pun intended, but if you know a franchise owner let them know), we took out some Jazz concert DVD’s and had them running while we were talking, and brainstorming on some ideas of what the “Dizzy” track needed. The Art of Diggin’ can just pop up some time, and it showed up at that moment. There was an outtake on one of the DVD’s we were watching, where one of the musicians was talking about his music performance, and the relationship with the crowd-response. There was a moment within his conversation that we both stopped eating our subs, and said, “YEAH!”
We quickly finished up our lunch, and immediately looked to track the sample. As I mentioned we were watching a DVD, and on an older TV. So, how do you take old equipment, and make it work with new equipment? There wasn’t a cable connection to get the audio from the DVD player, to our recording rig. So, we did what anyone would do: Grab a mic stand, microphone, cable, and record the speaker output of the TV. I don’t know if someone would do that over at Westlake Audio, but we try to use every available resource we have, that aids in our music production. If you need to mic up a TV, that’s what you do.
Once we ran the sample through Pro Tools, it was time to make it a part of the track. We think like DJ’s, but we also understand the musicianship side of things, along with the producer aspect. As DJ’s, we have always used our turntables, and now DJ Controllers, as an instrument. While the track was playing, we started to scratch the vocal sample over the top of the beat, and had that moment, “YEAH!”
We didn’t want to approach the sample in ways similar to someone like a 9th Wonder, who typically uses his vocal samples repetitively throughout the song; or a DJ Premier who uses his vocal samples as choruses on tracks. We wanted to use the sample as an instrument. So, when you hear, and listen to the “Dizzy” track, take note of the way we use scratching the vocal sample to play and fit as a musical instrument.
This simply was our thought process throughout. We like listening to beats while we work, while we train, cook, drive, etc. So, we don’t really want to be thinking about too much at those times. Often, other producers will slip in subliminal messages, political views, cultural agendas, or tell you how you should be feeling when you listen to a track from them. We didn’t want to take this approach with the “Dizzy” track. We loved that this sample simply created a mood, and filled in empty space the right way. We simply wanted to just create a vibe that makes you want to dance, and went about it in a ghetto-fabulous sort of way!