Tag Archives: Production

Artist Feature: Pat Messy

Pat Messy | Photo by Will Urbina

Pat Messy | Photo by Will Urbina

Reflection is that mental place where you try to put an answer to why things are the way they are, why things happen the way they do. Response is what you choose to do with that understanding, how you choose to react, what you choose to give back.

– Pat Messy

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

PM: I was born and grew up in Santa Cruz, CA, been up in Oakland for some years. Right now I am in a place called Elevation.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

PM: A lot haha. I think reflection is the process of trying to make sense of what’s going on all around us. It’s that mental place where you try to put an answer to why things are the way they are, why things happen the way they do. Response is what you choose to do with that understanding, how you choose to react, what you choose to give back.

How does your music fit in with that definition?

PM: My music is my response to the frequencies of life. I try to capture what I see in the world and in the people around me, reflect it off what I hear in my head and feel in my gut, then somehow translate it into rhythm and rhyme. As far as the musical side of things, I do a lot of sampling (not just loops tho). I like to listen to music, so I listen to records for timbres and tones, little musical chops that inspire me to create. For example, on Skeleton Key, the entire melody was taken from a single 1/16th note from an old funk record. The tone of the note they hit had me bugged so I chopped it, spread it out over my keyboard and played a brand new melody and progression. To the point that you can’t recognize the original sample. I try to do that with my sample work, reflect on the music before me and respond in a way that transforms it into something new and fresh.

With The Elevation LP, I really created from a reflective place, it’s pretty much the stories and experiences that I wanted to share from my formative years. The songs I like to write are usually conceptual. I don’t really sit around brainstorming things to write about. I just write, and then what I need to write about emerges in the process. I try to focus in on that subject, communicate my learning and understanding that I get through reflection and giving these thoughts attention. All my songs go thru a lot of editing and reworking to stay on topic. I have a song about being hungover. I have a song about chasing skirts. I have a song about losing my mother after a long battle with cancer. I’m all over the place!! I tried to create a personal record that is accessible, like hey, this is what I’ve been dealing with, this is what I’ve learned, if you can learn something about yourself or the world around you by listening to my records then I’ve done my job.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Wax Roof

We met music producer Wax Roof through our homie and fellow LIFESTYLE collective member Mike Summer. Originally from Santa Cruz and now living in Oakland, Wax Roof discusses the importance of personal experience when listening to music and the unique connections each of us have with different sonic textures. He stays busy putting out solo instrumental records while also working on upcoming collaborative projects with vocalist Genoa Brown and MC Marc Stretch. Peep his words below and check out some tunes from an ill Bay Area beatsmith!

Wax Roof

Your taste and receptiveness to certain sonic textures are the product of a lifetime of experiences, musical and non-musical. No one can take that from you.

– Wax Roof

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

WR: I am originally from Santa Cruz, and now live in Oakland. I grew up in the Santa Cruz Mountains before going to high school and college in Santa Cruz and finally working and living in the Bay Area. So the migration has gone woods, to the beach, to the town.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

WR: Well that’s a really hard question, isn’t it? I mean those are two aspects of existence that are so vast and personal I am not really doing them any justice trying to define them in a cute one liner. I think they mean more than I can ever fully understand, but put simply to reflect is to try to find meaning, and to respond is to try to do something meaningful.

Wax Roof

How does Wax Roof fit in with that definition?

WR: Wax Roof is the ever evolving sum of my journey through the cycle of reflecting and responding to life and the music I witness within it.

Your taste and receptiveness to certain sonic textures are the product of a lifetime of experiences, musical and non-musical. No one can take that from you. It is very unique and in the same way that you search for identity and a sense of happiness [it] is sought through REFLECTION and RESPONSE, so goes your pursuit of music that moves you. Everyone should take pride in their musical taste, whatever it may be, because it is something YOU have created. Wax Roof is the by-product of my taste as a fan for music, who also has the means to create their own.

We are never passively observing culture, we are always creating culture simply by internalizing that which we witness.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Ebonie Smith

In November of 2013, I was lucky enough to be in the audience for a panel discussion at the Hip Hop Think Tank III that featured New York-based music producer and composer Ebonie Smith. She dropped important information about the relevance of remixing and technology in sound production, and we’ve connected since the event to have her share some of her inspiring work with the LIFESTYLE Collective. Ebonie brings us ideas on how the power of sound can be used to reflect on and respond to the past, evident in her sampling voicemail messages from her late grandmother on her track “Circles of Robbie.” This track and appears on the melodic and impressive production beat tape Carnelian, one of Ebonie’s many dope projects. Between producing for Atlantic Records, running her own boutique music production and publishing company Eudora House, and founding Gender Amplified, a movement that supports female music producers, Ebonie holds it down on multiple fronts.

Ebonie Smith

Reflection and Response refers to one’s ability to adapt aspects of the past to impact the present. As a music producer and engineer, my work attempts to translate the past through sound and music technology.

– Ebonie Smith

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at? 

ES: I currently reside in New York City. I am originally from Memphis, Tennessee.

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

ES: Reflection and Response refers to one’s ability to adapt aspects of the past to impact the present. As a music producer and engineer, my work attempts to translate the past through sound and music technology.
How does Carnelian fit in with that definition?
ES: Carnelian is a production beat tape that exemplifies this definition in many ways. For example, the track “Circles of Robbie” is an ode to my grandmother, who unexpectedly died late last year. The track features samples from her voicemails to me. It also features samples of the music that helped me through that time. The track is a means of preserving her voice and elements of our special relationship. I use music technology and production skills to reference the past in an attempt to move forward.

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

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Artist Feature: Eric Medina

Eric Medina nos muestra las posibilidades expansivas de la música. Explorando varias facetas de Rap, Eric mueve desde el estudio al esenario con paradas en el DJ booth en el intermedio. Este artista Madrileño ha encontrado una forma melódica de reducir la velocidad del mundo caótico que nos rodea y enfocar en el presente. Abajo Eric nos abre a su mundo y explora Reflexión y Respuesta y también comparte sus various proyectos, inlcuyendo su grupo ESTAFA y High Standing, trabajo en Headroom Estudios, un libro-cd en collaboración con el poeta Julio Reija, y muchas iniciativas más. ¡Damos la bienvenida y le pasamos el micro a este hombre del renacimiento del hip-hop!

Eric Medina represents the wide expanse of possibilities in music. Eric explores various facets of Rap from the studio to stage with stops at the DJ booth in between. This Madrid-based artist uses this melodic art form to slow down the chaotic world around us and focus on the present. Below Eric goes in on Reflection and Response and welcomes us to his world while discussing his various projects including his groups  ESTAFA and High Standing, work in Headroom Studios, an audiobook in collaboration with poet Julio Reija, and much much more. Without further aidieu let’s pass the mic to this Renaissance man of hip-hop!

Eric Medina

Para mi la reflexión es un ejercicio de análisis, de tomar aire y pararse pensar en que has hecho, a dónde querías llegar con tus acciones y dónde has llegado realmente. Digamos que es un momento de quietud ante tanta velocidad que nos rodea.

To me, reflection is an exercise in analysis, taking a moment to think about what you’ve done, where you wanted to get as a result of your actions, and how far you’ve actually made it. I’d say it’s a quiet moment amidst all the chaos around us.

Para empezar con algunos puntos básicas, de dónde vienes? Dónde estás?

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

EM: Pues para empezar, vengo y estoy en Madrid y vengo y estoy en el Hip Hop.

Soy productor, dj y técnico de sonido. Me gusta la ironía, la profesionalidad, el buen humor y atrapar el talento de los demás en mis grabaciones.

EM: I’m originally from – and currently live in – Madrid, and I come from – and am currently in – Hip Hop.

I’m a producer, DJ, and sound engineer. I like irony, professionalism, good humor, and capturing other artists’ talents through my recordings.

Eric Medina


Que quiere decir “reflexión,” y “respuesta,” para ti?

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

EM: Para mi la reflexión es un ejercicio de análisis, de tomar aire y pararse pensar en que has hecho, a dónde querías llegar con tus acciones y dónde has llegado realmente. Digamos que es un momento de quietud ante tanta velocidad que nos rodea.

Y una respuesta lo veo como una solución ante una situación. 

EM: To me, reflection is an exercise in analysis, taking a moment to think about what you’ve done, where you wanted to get as a result of your actions, and how far you’ve actually made it. I’d say it’s a quiet moment amidst all the chaos around us.

I see response as a solution to a situation.

Eric Medina

Cómo se mete tu arte en esta definición?

How does your art fit in with that definition?

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Bob Amy #1

(Train Tracks near Robledo de Fenar, León)

This track is a continuation on my Looping project I started with the Radio Leon series. Here I sample parts of Amy Winehouse’s Take The Box and Bob Dylan’s The Times Are A-Changin’. I also use my own drum set (sampled from hits taken from a session in Seattle) and other instruments from León. These sort of tracks are super fun to do live because of the power of effects and arrangement made easier by hardware that makes firing off samples pretty simple.

Reflection and Response

-P

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Feature: Casey Wong

This week we’re PROUD to present our next Reflection and Response Feature artist – Casey Wong. A student of the world, beatmaker, wordsmith, martial artist, and educator, Casey powerfully and creatively challenges social injustices through his various forms of craft, expression, and action. A genuine and inspiring person to all those around him, Casey guides us through an insightful Reflection and Response interview, followed by a presentation of his music..

While you can expose your own reflections, only you can know the whole story, feel me? Only you know the true colors, the font, the images, the ideas in their wholeness.

Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?

CW: Home has always been where my family’s at, so since my parents passed away, home has been elusive.  I grew up in San Bernardino and Colton, but since no one I know really lives out there anymore, they really aren’t places that feel like home or places I go back to now.  I have an older brother who lives in San Diego and a younger sister who lives in the Bay Area, and I feel the most at home when I’m with them.  Berkeley and Oakland have a special place in my heart because I spent so many years out there living, going to school, and working, so I definitely got to shout out Oakland and Berkeley when I acknowledge where I’m from.  Another area where I feel at home is this little California beach town outside Los Angeles called Playa del Rey.  It was rare, but every once in a while our Mom used to take us to see her adopted Mother (we used to call her “Aunt Garth” because she didn’t like Grandma) and it was always a good time.  We reconnected with her in recent years and it’s always great going to visit.  So most of the time when people ask me where I’m from, due to all the above, I just say “California.” Right now I’m living in Brooklyn, NY, and it’s great, fa sho! I got to know some special people out here, but I’m def ready to head back to California!

What does Reflection and Response mean to you?

CW: Reflection is kind of a heavy word… the first thing that comes to my mind is the legendary project Reflection Eternal by Talib Kweli and Hi-Tek.  They do an incredible job elucidating that word, “reflection.”  That track “Memories Live,” you feel me?

But on the philosophical tip… I believe that reflection should pre-empt any serious action that you take.  A serious move for the most part requires premeditated contemplation in order to be effective.  Reflection is a manifestation of your dreams, desires, worries, and critical thinking, amongst the other processes reeling through your head.  Reflection is also very personal.  While you can expose your own reflections, only you can know the whole story, feel me?  Only you know the true colors, the font, the images, the ideas in their wholeness. What we tell others is really just an outline of the entirety of our reflection, a piece of the whole project which came to unfold during our very personal meditation on self, our placement and relationship to others and ideas in the world.  There are some masters who have managed to craft their reflections into the physical world in some remarkable ways.  Right now I think of James Baldwin, Nelson Mandela, Nas, Chimamanda Adichie, Bruce Lee, Nina Simone, Emory Douglas, I could go on . . .

While some would attach response to reflection, I don’t think every response is a result of reflection, but that doesn’t invalidate such a response or the meaning that such a response can have.  Take for instance a race riot.  A race riot is usually a spontaneous response to a dehumanizing action related to race made up of accumulated anger and frustration, without reflection.  However, that race riot can serve as a powerful response, though destructive, which hopefully can inspire reflection to change the unjust circumstances which caused that race riot.  When a response is tied to a reflection, the response often takes on a character which is more complete and cohesive, although that is not always the case.  It should not be a surprise that a response to a reflection often comes out in the form of art or a project which pays more serious attention to the details and different dimensions, however that response is articulated . . .

How do your beats “Sound of the Beast,” “Thug Life,” “Meant to Love You Baby 2.0,” and “Feel That Music (Trust In Me Remix)” fit in with that definition?

CW: The beats I’m posting here are responses to my own reflections upon injustice, music, reflection itself, and of course love. “Sound of the Beast” is a brief interlude expressing my own response to my reflections on the New Jim Crow, the police state, the use of force, both physical and symbolic, against particularly people of color and poor people. In the track I pay homage and respond to a piece that all you heads should recognize by KRS-One. “Thug Life” is a piece I made while working at a local middle school in Oakland, CA.  I worked with an MC there, and a lot of that beat is inspired by our conversations.  More specifically, the beat is my response to my reflection on a brief excerpt by 2pac which appears at the beginning of the track. “Meant to Love you Baby 2.0” is on the love tip.  The track is on and about a relationship, about the words, the feelings, and the passion. “Feel That Music (Trust In Me Remix)” is a quick and dirty, reflective conversation I had with a track by Slakah the Beatchild (I don’t even think I could call it a remix).  I was feeling the beat, which I barely altered, and I just infused some familiar voices that captured the story going on in my head when I heard the track. Enjoy!

What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?

CW: In the beatmaking game, I recently expanded my collection of tools, and I’m looking forward to seeing how these new tools help me to evolve as an artist.  I am hoping to acquire more high quality recording equipment to allow me to expand into the realm of producer.  Also working on up-ing my DJ skills to inform my craft!

Who or what inspires you?

CW: I am inspired by the passionate change-makers of the world.  I am inspired by those self-aware dedicated men and women who see social inequality and make it a point to confront it in collaborative, creative, honest, and powerful ways.  Probably the most notable inspirations in my life right now are Dr. Pedro Noguera, Martha Diaz, James Baldwin, Malcolm X, and Bruce Lee.  My Mom of course continues to be an inspiration to me in the way she dedicated her life to confronting injustice, something which she worked hard to instill in me from a young age, and my Dad for the compassion he lived by, day by day, until the day he passed away. As an artist, Nas definitely has been a big inspiration in moving me to understand the world with a critical eye.

Is there anything else you would like the Collective to know?

CW: The secret not so secret moniker I go by is Phakamani (pronounced pa-ga-ma-nee).  It’s an isiZulu name I acquired while studying isiZulu at the University of KwaZulu-Natal (Pietermaritzberg), South Africa from my Professors there, BabuTsangase and Mam’Nonhlanhla.  The name was created during Apartheid, and the closest translation to English is “Everyone stand up.” That’s me.

While beatmaking is a form of expression I’m very passionate about, I also live my life as a martial artist.  Recently in seeking to progress my self-cultivation as a martial artist I have been studying Wing Chun for the past year with Sifu Henry Moy.  The Tao of Jeet Kune Do by Bruce Lee continues to be a guide in my learning to honestly express myself as a martial artist.

Also I can’t end this interview without expressing my passion for teaching children (and for making their education more meaningful, fun, safe, and equitable), especially through the arts, particularly music.  The youth are the truth!

Shout out to…?

CW: I have to give a shout out to my sister who is another passionate educator in the family, utilizing dance, the arts, and her amazing linguistic talents to grow the youth! Shout out to my humble brother constructing the future as an engineer, always keeping your eye out for how you can help others!  Shout out to Ms. Mercy Agyepong, constantly checking me, and inspiring me with the wisdom you hold, and for your remarkable ways of distilling knowledge with a raw perspicacious flavor that the world needs to keep in touch with, can’t wait to call you Dr. Agyepong! Of course shout out to my boy Vicken, living life by the truth, you’re a beast for continuing to strive to open the world through your empathy and love of the arts.  Shout out to Emmanuel for inspiring youth through the love and that film thing.  Shout out to Martha Diaz for your faith and passion for equity and justice, helping to develop me and open the door of opportunity for me anytime and whenever you can, I could go on!

Reflection and Response.

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