PRODUCER PROFILE is a platform in where we interview music creators, i.e. producers/beatmakers, both locally and globally, and showcase their musical works. The goal of PRODUCER PROFILE is to explore and reveal how communities of grassroots music creators are crossing borders, both in sound and geographic location. Their music is innovative and visionary – their music is powerful, brilliant, and unapologetic – and their music is part of a fast growing worldwide community that is changing the way we listen and share music.
STERYO’s Producer Profile series #4 features Arizona’s brightest and finest beat-maker/sound collector/button pusher, B 3 N B i. Getting his worldwide start with The Jazz Jousters, Fly By Night Collective, and Astral Basement, B 3 N B i exponentially pushed the boundaries of sound across borders. Having been featured in majority of Jazz Jousters releases, he crafted solo musical works with You, Youself, v_01 – Simply, and v_02 – Lemmon, all of which delivered innovative and exceptional tracks.
Without further delay, ladies and gentlemen – B 3 N B i.
Name: B 3 N B i
Location: Tucson, Arizona
Equipment: MPC1000 & microKORG.. For now 😉 I record and do any extra processing in Logic Pro 9 and X.
Years producing: Over two years under the name “B 3 N B i”.
Label: Variation Music
Collaborators: Jazz Jousters, Fly By Night Collective and Astral Basement
I apologize for the long delay in setting up this interview. Thank you for supporting our PRODUCER PROFILE series. It is much appreciated!
Thank YOU, Edgar! It’s a privilege and an honor to be a part of it!
When I first came across The Jazz Jousters back in July 2012 I did research on all the beat-makers and you were the one I could not locate on any social media network. Tell me, how did you evade me for so long? [laughing]
[laughing] That’s a little concerning, actually. I’m always getting notifications on my phone telling me to start small-talk on my Facebook page. I wonder if that helps to make the page easier to find or more interactive. I always respond to anyone who tries to get in contact with me but I apologize for making it hard to find me in the first place [laughing].
What is the musical vision for the famous and legendary MPC ButtonPusher – B 3 N B i? –.
At this in my point in my life, personally and musically, I just want to connect with people. People always inspire the music I share along with my surroundings, so I hope people can apply that to their day some how. Whether it’s listening on the way to work or just putting it on because it doesn’t get in the way of conversation. Whatever it is, I would like for you to tell me about it!
We seem to talk about influences in music a lot, what can you say contributed to your musical aspirations?
It’s hard to answer this question because the answer always seems sad. I was playing drums in the band, Diver City. We loved playing our music and we had plans to travel and play music for anyone who’d listen. When our guitarist and friend passed away in May 2011, I started making beats under the name B 3 N B i shortly after and those same dreams just stuck with me. If anyone invites me anywhere, I’ll do everything I can to be there.
Do you remember the first vinyl you got your hands on? What about your first musical instrument? And your first beat? What do you recall of this experience?
My parents always had vinyl laying around, the Beatles, Rare Earth, Grand Funk and several others. But my first record was a DJ Rectangle battle record. I wanted to be a DJ before making beats.
My first instrument was a drumkit my mom bought me when I was 14. A small, red Tama kit. Not long after I got a summer job cleaning up highways and bought myself a Pearl kit. Midnight purple with black hardware, so sick. I still use it to this day for Atwood, a folk band I play in with my friends, Xavi and Mars.
I remember calling my friend at 2 in the morning (on landlines) to show him a beat I made on a demo version of Fruity Loops 3 [laughing]. A long time ago when I was in middle school. I couldn’t save it because I didn’t know of any “clever” ways to get around that. I have a MySpace page where you can hear beats I made when I was around 16-17 years old. Me and my friend Arsenal_Arsenio have a demo on there from when we were probably 18 years old, also.
Do you feel like beat-making could improve the understanding of humanity through the music one travels through, especially while record-digging to create a beat?
This is the reason why I stopped relying on the Internet to find samples. Crate digging is an endless goose hunt through the history of music and culture. And you can look anywhere! Record stores, yard sales, junk shops, basements, you never where you’ll find them and what you’ll find. Think about the journey that record took before you held it in your hands. The songs are a product of hard work and creativity inspired by moments other peoples lives, and you have a physical artifact of it. Crate digging is our direct link to the past. Knowing someone 50 years from now might just appreciate music and the art the same way we do, helps me find faith that the music will continue to stay alive and grow, which is what sampling can do. It’s incredible when you think about it. Even brand new albums, I always check to see if it’s coming out on vinyl. Having a physical artifact is sort of indescribable, the feeling of really appreciating the music.
Not only have you made inroads as a Jazz Jousters contributor but you’ve done work with Astral Basement, you’ve done solo work (Oakloops and Frostwood Sessions), and a collaborating project with REDIBrown. Do you feel like the mental and physical work you put into being a beat-maker parallels to a sports players work ethic? E.g. the practice, conditioning, game-time action, and the thrill of victory?
Mentally, sitting in a room by yourself for hours on end trying to piece together sounds is in some ways insane [laughing]. We do this for what? The chance that someone might hear it and hopefully react to it? It’s crazy, but a lot of us get a rush from that very idea. I used to play baseball as a kid, and that rush from throwing a runner out when he tries to steal second almost feels the same as people reacting to a beat. It just comes from a different source of accomplishment. You’d be surprised how drained you get after making beats for several hours, but it’s obviously less demanding, physically, than playing sports. It takes work ethic and dedication to get better at anything. I hope that never changes.
Who else have you collaborated with and do you plan on any future collaboration with new artists?
I’ve worked with several local emcees over the past two years. Naturally you find artists you work well with and others who you’d rather not put time in for. I want to lean more towards the art of beat-making and work with other producers. AB and JJ opened a lot of doors and I’ve worked with RND1, Daisycutta and Go Yama just to name a few. JJ has some awesome ideas floating around for a collaborative project, that’s all I’ll say about that [evil laugh]. It’s still strange but exciting to learn about a complete stranger from somewhere else in the world using your beat. Cutta Chase even made a video and “Bakers Dozen” was the beat he used. Chilean emcees seem to like my beats and that’s awesome considering the sheer talent over there. I’ll definitely be looking to work with artists out there. (What up, Sistema!) A lot of collaborations in the future are mostly going to be with other beatmakers, for sure.
How much time would you say you put into creating a track and subsequently, an album, before you say, this is it! I say this because as a music curator, you have not let me down musically.
Thank you! I try not to dwell on the idea of how much time I spend on something. But, to be honest, if a beat takes 20 minutes to make, I sit on it for days because I worry it’s not as good as I thought it was [laughing]. I usually don’t stop until it feels right, which can take hours, days. Same goes for whole projects. My main focus on an album, or release, is the theme. I like to have that one thing that bridges the whole project together. All the beats on “élan:beats” were sampled from one single record and they each had their own movie clip. I asked friends and my mom to contribute their favorite movie clip. “Distance EP” was written in a week and all the money received from it went to help KNYT raise money for Motor Neuron Disease. All the track names express the word “distance” in different languages, too. I lived in a house on a street named Frostwood for a couple of months, and the tracks on “Frostwood Sessions” were made during that time. Oakloops was made during a trip I made to visit my little sister in Oakland. I named all those beats after things I saw during that trip. Like, “1R” was the bus number my sister and I took to get to Berkeley (where she goes to school). And “Zaya Cafe” was the name of the cafe I made a few beats in. They were really nice to let me chill there and even gave me a couple of free refills of their delicious iced coffee. “The Bart” is their subway system, and so forth. All in all, sometimes you just have to let the tracks go and start sharing them.
It has to be the hot Arizona weather that helping you churn those beats? [laughing]
Mexicans are people of the sun, but 100 degree weather is definitely a good reason to stay inside and make music [laughing]. In the summer, swimming pools take priority over making beats whenever you get that chance, for sure!
As early as 2006 it seemed like music was regionally affluent in major market such as LA, NY, Houston, Miami, etc. How impactful do you think social media networks (facebook, twitter, etc.) have been in helping you reach new platforms and audiences, both in a local and global level, especially coming from Tucson, AZ? – also explain a little about Tucson’s music scene and how social media networks have impacted music etc.
When you get a message from people in Chile, Portugal, and Japan, saying they like your music, you really have to appreciate the impact of having a Facebook account. The chances of reaching them without one are slim to none. Even a Twitter or a SoundCloud account. On the flip side, I feel we’re reaching a time when that’s just not enough to get people to really listen, which is another reason I really want to travel.
Tucson is a really small town when it comes to the music scene. It’s a town where almost everyone knows of anyone and everyone who is involved in music. You have to take that with the good and the bad. Really awesome blues scene here too.
What role did social media network play in linking up with The Jazz Jousters and Astral Basement?
Social media had everything to do with linking up with these groups. Gypsy Eyes (hello, Gwen!), who lives in east Canada, invited me into the Facebook group for JJ even before the idea of releasing tributes came about. My friend RND1, who also lives in Tucson, recommended me to ViktorStone for Astral Basement, who lives in the LA area.
If the Internet did not exist – what would you be doing right now?
Playing baseball [laughing].
What do you see in the near future for B 3 N B i? e.g. projects.
A bunch of projects! Aside from the ongoing Jousters projects, I’m currently working on a few compilations from Astral Basement, Fly By Night Collective and Raw Data Jazz that Ikabod Bumm puts together. Really psyched about all these coming out. Got a remix for Chaos Kid coming out, hopefully soon and of course, a few beat tape ideas for the beginning of 2014. My friend Top Nax and I have a collaborative full length coming out as well through Variation Music. General X, local cat in Tucson, AZ has a package of tracks that I produced sitting in his dungeon, no word on when those will be out. My solo project “Thought Telegraph” is near complete, also coming out through Variation Music. Really psyched about my project for 2014, the details are far from being ironed out but I’m going to work really hard to make that project the best I’ve ever done.
As part of the PRODUCER PROFILE series, we ask the interviewed producers to discuss FIVE tracks.
Whenever I write music, hiphop or not, my inspiration always funnels down to post rock. I’m a sucker for soaring chords with melancholic melodies. Slow rhythms with big atmospheres and drums that sound like they’ve been recorded in a giant room. You’ll definitely hear that a lot on “Thought Telegraph”. Mercury Program, Arms and Sleepers, American Dollar and Gifts From Enola are a few of my favorites.
I don’t know why the more interesting stories behind beats happen with JJ beats. But, here we go!
I want to take the people back to The Chet Baker Tribute:
1. Baker’s Dozens – The Chet Baker Tribute
Ah yes, such good memories with this beat [laughing]. The first ever Jazz Jousters tribute had me so nervous I didn’t sleep well and barely ate. I made 8 different beats and the 8th beat, the one you hear now, was made a couple of days before I turned it in. If I had known so many people would respond so well to our tributes, it would have been 20 beats, instead of 8 [laughing].
“With Envy” – Grant Green tribute
I had this dream one night. I was talking to a beautiful woman in a bar. She asked me, “So, what do you do?” I said, “I make beats.” She gave me this annoyed look and walked away without saying bye. Total diss. As she walked away I remember thinking in the dream, “If that ass was a beat, what would it sound like?” And, there you go.
The drums were heavily inspired by Elaquent.
This track is really special to me. I mentioned my friend Hector passing away in 2011. I sampled a song he wrote called “Perfect Symmetry” and posted it on the two year mark of his death. You can hear the original song here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KCTsx7IIVo
“Convex” – Bobby Hutcherson
On the Maschine Mikro, the piano pattern is tuned down -2. The rhythm vibes pattern is tuned down -10 and the melody vibes part is tuned down -5. The drums were made on the MPC. One of the more creative beats I’ve made [laughing].
“stop.drop” – Fly By Night Collective: Nightfly Vol.2
I was listening to a lot of Samiyam at the time. I wanted to make a real head knocker so I put together drums first. Shuffled through some 45s and started chopping. When I was needle dropping I noticed that no matter where I dropped the needle, it sounded awesome and usable. While the drums were playing, I started dropping the needle to the beat. I did this a few times for about a minute each and picked the spots that made a nice progression. On the microKORG, I recorded 3 different chords at 2 different apreggiator speeds on individual pads on the MPC. I want to make a video of a live routine for this beat soon.
If you’re a producer/beat-maker and would like to be considered for STERYO’s PRODUCER PROFILE series, please submit a brief bio and five links of your music to STERYOmedia@gmail.com, ATTN: PRODUCER PROFILE.