I found out about Sweeps when I had heard his album city nights. I was floored with his sampling capabilities and his beat choice. The album flowed so seamlessly and I was in love with the album. I knew I had to reach out to to talk about his album and the journey to where he is today, especially after so many projects.
Below you will find an interview that covers his production style, his musical background, and of course, his infatuation with Nujabes.
What’s your musical background like? Did you grow up with music around the household, and if so, what type of music?
Yeah there was always music playing. My parents would play a lot of different things like Pink Floyd, Sade, U2, and BB King. I was really into hip-hop growing up and I got into old-school hip-hop when I was a teenager.
Growing up, what got you into making hip hop beats?
Whenever I would listen to hip-hop I would always be focusing on the beat. It was like this early on for me. However, when I started making music I was making house music because that was what interested me at the time. I didn’t start making hip-hop beats until about 2016 or so.
In the reddit thread where you posted your album’s vinyl pressing, you mentioned being a huge fan of Nujabes. How’d you come across his work and what was it like hearing his music for the first time
I got really into Nujabes when I was in high school. This was in the early Youtube days around 2007-2008. I stumbled across his music from related videos when I was digging for new music back then.
We’ve talked a little bit about the sampling you’ve done. What were your main sources for sampling (both genres and platforms such as digital/CD/vinyl etc.)
I find most of my samples online. I’m not very picky about genre or style. As long as gives me an emotional reaction and it is simple enough to chop up, I will try to make something out of it.
When you’re sample hunting, what are you personally looking for?
I’m usually drawn to melodic content and sonic textures. I try to write songs that are rich in melody so I try to find samples with dynamic melodies and unique sounds.
One of the most enriching aspects of your production has been the drums. They feel so tight and full. How’d you go about mixing and them and did you ever wonder if the drums would overpower the other instrumentation?
Thank you! I put a lot of time into finding the balance between the drums and instrumentation. It really just takes practice, using reference tracks, and trusting your ears to get a good mix. I use a lot of multi-band compression and sidechain compression to make them stand out and have more punch.
Is this album sample exclusive, or did you perform or get live instrumentation on it to add more to the music?
There are a few tracks on “City Nights” that I wrote melodies for. I almost always start with a sample and build elements around that. I find the magic really starts to happen when you layer things.
Ableton is your main DAW of choice based on our conversations. Was there something that drew you to Ableton versus another DAW? Are there any tips or tricks you’d give to producers that are producing hip hop that also use Ableton
I was really into deadmau5 when I was searching for a DAW. I learned that he used it so I figured that’s the one I should learn. I feel like most of them all do the same stuff, it’s just how you use it.
My tip would be to experiment with other genres and build an understanding how different sounds are made. I find that my early start producing house music has given me many techniques and workflows that I apply to making hip-hop beats.
The artwork on the album was made “…by collaging old retro-futuristic artworks together”. What inspired you to take this approach? And did you ever have other versions of the artwork that you might release later for fans to see the development to the final version?
I was in the process of making “Tomorrow” when my buddy gave me a bunch of old sci-fi books. It became so clear to me that the style of artwork on the covers of these books should be the imagery behind Sweeps. It was a perfect match to the sound of the music I was making. I don’t think I’ll release any early versions of the artworks…they’re not as good as the final haha
After listening to “Tomorrow” your first release from 2017, your progression is clear. Your drums have improved a lot, mixing is more balanced and the overall feel of the album as a whole is incredibly consistent. What’ve you learned from your first release since it dropped, and what advice would you give producers and artists on their first release in terms of their sound and striving for that ‘perfect’ sound?
Thank you! I’ve definitely learned how to better market my music and build the Sweeps brand since then.
Some advice would be to not overthink things. I was producing and releasing music for about 7 years before I started the Sweeps project. There were a lot of times where I went down the wrong direction or released things I wasn’t happy with. I think these things are inevitable, so try different things and learn from them. If you overthink things and never release anything, you won’t learn from the experience. If something fails, move onto the next thing. If something works, keep doing more of that.
What’s the next step? A tour, the next album, collaborations?
I have a few things coming up. I have a finished project that has been complete for over a month, but I am just waiting on my label to move forward with the release. I am building a live set to perform my music. I am also working on getting my music into music libraries for sync placements.
Lastly, to date, what is your proudest musical achievement?
There’s a few that come to mind. I think getting a track to 1 million Spotify streams was a pretty big moment for me.
I naively thought you were doing this independently. You mentioned a record label. Who found who, and why’d you decide to work with the label that you do? Do you feel they’ve been able to help push/market you better?
Vinyl-Digital found me and reached out to release my first beat-tape on cassette. Later we also signed a deal to release my stuff on streaming platforms. They have been helpful in getting some tracks on Spotify playlists.
If you had to do it all over again, would you stick with a label, or would you recommend an artist go independent. In a climate where artists’ mixtapes likes Chance the Rapper and Joey Bada$$’s 1999 make it huge and put artists on, do you think the label is needed? Of course, the two examples are rappers and not beat makers/producers, but I think the question still stands.
Labels can be helpful as an extra set of hands to get the word out about your music. Some labels are better than others at this. If you are an independent artist and you are approached by a label, I would recommend taking a serious look at their social media. If they seem like they can do a better job at marketing than you alone, then it might be worth it. I highly recommend negotiating with the label for a non-exclusive contract, so you still maintain your freedom.
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