Monday, July 4, 2016

[I wish it was longer]: Scratching The Surface with Baltimore Beatsmith John Bachman & "Train of Though" + Jumbled at DATBEET#2 In Manassas, Virginia 2xVideo Premier (The Witzard Interview)


"about the album... Proof that [there] is still sample-based Boom-Bap from Baltimore. When you get a chance, please check out the new album from Jumbled, called [I wish it was longer]. When Jumbled sent early demos to friends, many responded that they were disappointed with the brevity of the project. All songs are produced by Jumbled, in his home in Northeast Baltimore. As with most albums, this project took almost 2 years to complete, between working, making beats, and organizing collaborations with emcees. This album is meant to be a showcase of production, which is enhanced by guest vocals," read the introductory paragraph of a cold email submission sent by self-described "teacher, husband, beat-maker, [and] dish washer" John Bachman. Mr. Bachman, a high school engineering teacher, records sample and Bmore Club-based Hip-Hop as Jumbled during his nights and weekends off. I fostered quite a relationship with John online over the course of the past month, during which he has told me about self-recording a 6-inch at Third Man Records, his Ableton high school beat club, disappearing "World's On Fire" emcee Izaac, and the creation of his aforementioned album, [I wish it was longer]; all of which has led to this very 11-question interview you're about to delve into momentarily, inter-spliced with not one,but two exclusive music videos John Bachman sent me along with his answers, which I'm proud to present within this space!!! Enjoy, my fellow beat-heads!


Sincerely,

Matt Horowitz
The Witzard Editor-In-Chief

I. How did you first get into rapping and beat-making? What would you site as your greatest influences during this formative period?

I’m not really sure how I got started. I wanted to make beats and realized you could use a sampler, so I think I got some birthday money (circa 2003) and bought a Roland SP-303 that I still use today. My first attempt was for Dwell (who raps on “Train of Thought”) to make some beats for him, that were basically loops. I was in a Grindcore band with my friend Clint (aka salk.) and he came over and I pushed him into rapping. We were both rapping over my beats and some borrowed beats and I released two solo Rap albums. But [I] eventually wanted to focus more on making beats and getting more creative.

I was always influenced by Rick Rubin-era Def Jam and the Beastie Boys. I tried to absorb everything RZA did when I was in high school and worshipped at the Kanye altar in college. I think that DJ Premier is my all-time favorite and love the versatility of Edan. I listen to a lot of podcasts and want to hear how the masters, like Diamond D and Marley Marl, created their beats.


II. What was your typical production and recording process like for your latest album, [I wish it was longer] (WIWL)?


My usual process is sitting down early Saturday or Sunday mornings and pulling samples. I love flipping through dollar bins for things that look interesting or lesser known albums of familiar musicians (Jazz, Soul, [Classic] Rock) I might use a drum break record to provide a backbeat, or sample those drums, and play them live with the sample. I try to add some bass or organ to give the track some layers, but sometimes it doesn’t need it. Most of the time, I pull a sample into the SP-303 and trim it. While I mostly use Ableton for playing live, I make almost all of my beats in Audacity.


III. You've been self-described as a "teacher, husband, beat-maker, [and] dish washer;" what can you tell me about your Ableton beat club established along with your high school students?

Unfortunately, my previous school didn’t have many activities outside of sports. Two years ago, I contacted Ableton and their customer rep was an old friend. After raising some money using GoFundMe and getting a good deal from Ableton, I was able to get an educational license. I struggle with showing them too much and just want them to explore the program and make music they are excited about. I try to promote it in school, but I think kids are afraid to try new things. [Although,] I had a few this year that would come after school almost every day.


IV. What are you working on next, John in the wake or your just released album, [I wish it was longer]? I believe you mentioned the possibly of a Disco and Bmore Club breaks-sampling album, correct?

I’ve been pretty busy the last few months with shows and finishing up at school. I’m hoping to finish up a new batch of beats in the next few weeks for collabs, then start working on some new Baltimore Club tracks. I’ve made two EP’s so far that have been really fun. I generally sample parts from 1970-80’s songs and layer them over Baltimore Club breaks. It’s a fun departure—especially when sometimes you buy records and they turn out to be too Dance-y or too Electronic. Baltimore Club’s popularity seems to come in waves, but I’ve been a fan since high school and have been trying to find older songs, either online or on vinyl.


V. I know you had a show at #DATBEET2 last month, Thursday, June 16th. How did the format for that end up turning out... rapping, singing, DJing, cipher-style, etc?

DATBEET was great! Manassas is about 90 minutes outside of Baltimore. The event was hosted by Fleetwood Deville (based out of DC), and had performances from Chris Flight, Groovy D, SkyhighRY, and Arxhy. I was able to play some beats in between Rap sets and encouraged emcees to come up and freestyle. This type of event is ideal for me—playing short sets and linking with new people. These events are critical for encouraging new talent and meeting new people. Everyone at DATBEET was super supportive and made me want to play more events like this!

A few years ago, I got involved with Llamadon, which is a Hip-Hop collective in Baltimore. Dylan and Andrew (from Llamadon) started organizing Beet Trip, which is a live beat cypher with emcees freestlying over top. I’m a little older than most people in that circle and my style felt older. Most producers had a clean-modern Rap feel to their beats and I would come through with dusty samples and drum loops that weren’t quantized. But even the rappers that only used Trap beats wanted to flow over an old school beat. I’ve always loved big beats and samples and keep trying to find new and old artists that do that style well.


VI. What can you tell my readers and I about your limited edition lathe-cut 8-inch [I wish it was longer] records; does it contain all of the album's tracks or just the emcee-led cuts?

I have a lot of records—I’m not really a collector—but want to get as much as I can, for the least amount of money. I have some records that I buy to listen to, but many just for sampling.

I’ve never had records pressed, but hear from friends that do, that it is expensive and stressful. I wanted something that would be more limited and less expensive. So, I researched a few companies and decided to use LatheCuts.com (who have since dissolved into three smaller companies)—and I think it turned out great! Due to the length of the record, I was only able to fit the songs that have vocals on them, but the rest of the album is free online, so anyone can grab it.

Another inspiration for this was when I went to Nashville two summers ago and recorded a beat in the Third Man Records [Voice-o-Graph] machine. It sounds like it’s 100 years old and [is] limited to one copy!



VII. How did you go about recruiting WIWL's various Baltimore and Pittsburgh area emcees? Can you briefly speak on the album's sharp-tongued emcees?


Choosing artists to work with is the easiest part of this project. I picked people that are friends and very skilled at their craft. The last track I received for this project was track with Bito Sureiya (from NASA8). After meeting Bito at Beet Trip and facing him in a head-to-head beat battle, I emailed him asking him to record a track. To my surprise, he sent it back later that day—recorded, mixed, and mastered. I joked that we should do a whole album together, which turned into our Mental Static project. We have been playing shows with that project for most of this year, but I had to get another track from him for WIWL. The track with Berko Lover came very organically. Though we’ve only met in real life a few times, she takes my beats to a new level. She rapped over an organ beat a few years back (“Rhodes”) and tackled one of my Baltimore Club beats last year for my Boom EP.

“Ineita Break” by Stillborn Identity was probably the first track I heard with vocals. Stillborn (aka Cody Jones) lives in Pittsburgh, we are able to collaborate and work together to create music we are very proud of. He also appears on the Bigelow Riders track—with fellow Pittsburgher Davy Hamburgers and Brooklyn-via-Pittsburgh emcee Jack Wilson. Jack (aka DJ Brewer) heard “That’s The Way It Goes” beat and it felt like a Bigelow Riders beat, but reminded me of a J-Zone beat.

Finally, “Train of Thought” is collaboration between two of my oldest friends and influences in Hip-Hop. Dwell is a retired rapper, father of three, but is an amazing emcee, and engineer. I was in a duo with salk. for years (Napalm Def), who pours his heart out on every track. I was eager to put both of them on a track together.


VIII. When I first received your initial email and heard WIWL, I was almost instantly reminded of DJ Shadow & Cut Chemist's infamous 45-scratching magnum opus Brainfreeze! Would you care to speak on the album's underlying samples—most notably your "Lesson"-style spoken word interludes?

After a few “beat apes” (blended beats), I wanted to attempt a full-length album. After looking at a few “producer-centric” albums, I liked the format of Memory Man’s [Broadcast One] album, alternating between beats and songs with vocals. The songs with vocal samples were an attempt to give the album some cohesion, instead of just random songs grouped together. I liked the sample from “Terri Gross,” since it almost explains what it is like to be a producer, which is hard to explain to some people.

I think if I could [choose to] have someone Rap or sing on all of my beats, I would. Since Llamadon started Beet Trip, there has been a big movement in Baltimore for a beat scene. Eu-IV, Urban Shaman, HippuHoppuOtaku and more have been doing great things!

I’m definitely influenced by DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist! Entroducing... is one of my all-time favorite albums and I have a 4-foot poster of the cover up in my office. I got to see them last year on tour together and love watching their excitement in the [2001] documentary, Scratch.


IX. For fans of your latest, and might I add-impeccable, Jumbled album [I wish it was longer], where exactly do you suggest begin when delving into your back catalog? Are there any particular records would you recommend starting with?

I think if they like my beats, obviously check out my two mixtapes; In Between Stops was my first concentrated effort at making an actual beat tape, while Unessential Instrumentals has more material. Both are examples of me trying to cram as many beats [as I could] into a short window. I can’t stand when producers let beats ride out for 3-4 minutes that don’t change or evolve at all.

My first attempt at making an entire album came out earlier this year. Mental Static was a collaborative album with NASA8 emcee Bito Sureiya. He took that project to the next level with great raps, ad-libs, and using sound clips to tie the entire project together. It really has a MADVILLAINY feel to it for me.

I’ve tried to compile some collaborations on Soundcloud with many great artists (and some have used on their albums). But I think now, I’m interested in doing more EP’s or albums—with more collaborations.


X. What might you specify as a few of your personal favorite Hip-Hop albums or albums of any genre of the past 6-8 months? Would you likely cite any of said albums as sources of inspiration during WIWL's creation?

Most of my favorites from 2016 have been from friends! ialive & Darko The Super from Philadelphia released a project called [Hell Hole] Store, which I picked up on tape. Height Keech from Baltimore has ventured off in a new direction on his Unending Blaze, Vol. 1 EP. Local emcee and songstress Anna Notte put out her second EP and used one my of my favorite beats I’ve ever made called “Ppl Are Mean.” I just set up a great show in Baltimore that a group called So Nice Yesterday played. They just put out their album called [Best Party Ever] and is a mix of Rap, R&B, and Baltimore Club.

I’ve been meaning to pick up J Dilla’s [THE] DIARY, but have heard some of the songs before. I liked a few from Kanye’s [The Life of Pablo]—but didn’t like a lot of it. Finally, the new J-Zone, which picks up where his last album left off.

I’ve been listening to Google Play when driving or doing chores lately—Your Old Droog, Gang Starr, Group Home, Step Brothers (Evidence + The Alchemist), but that also exposes me to stuff I wouldn’t normally hear, but like!


XI. * BONUS QUESTION * We previously spoke about it through an all-too-brief Twitter exch@nge; but what can you tell my readers about [I wish it was longer] bonus track #15 "World's On Fire” and its rather mysterious "disappearing" emcee, Izaac?

I went to an event called Baltimore Beat Club that I played beats at and had an open mic cypher. I don't think Izaac lived in the city, but came to this Beat Club and to the next one—that I couldn't make. He produced his own stuff on GarageBand, but I sent him some beats that he liked. [He] sent me this one and I tweaked it a little. But since then, he's deleted his Soundcloud, Facebook, and Twitter.

ACTUALLY, I tried to look him up again and he changed his Rap name to Mick Boche and relocated to San Diego!!!

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