10 Seconds Sample Time with Beat Butcha
Beat Butcha’s made a name for himself world wide, working with the most respected artists over the UK, US and AU. His grind, the way his music resonates with his colabs and his natural progression in production is something that’s to be respected. I threw our ’10 second sample time’ over to gain a little more about the man who’s steady ‘spreadin’ the infection’. Big ups to the Beat Butcha!
1. What was your first piece of equipment you made a full beat on and who taught/mentored you?
I mean, apart from looping my favourite beats making pause button tapes at 11 or 12, I was pretty much like most bredders. I started off with very little knowledge or skill of the craft, I’m completely self taught, it all basically started with audio editing software which my friend gave me a demo of called ‘Cool Edit ’96’.
Before I even had a crack, I’d just reinstall the software every 30 days when the trial period ran out hahaha, you know I was ‘keeping it real’ as fuck hahaha (Until someone introduced me to Mr Quistgard).
So yeah, first equipment I had was my first Desktop PC, in ’98, at 16 years old, I shared it with my Mum, it was a piece of shit, even at a late 90s standard. I had no clue what people made beats on, other than knowing vaguely about the Akai MPCs and the EMU SP-1200, which obviously I had heard people talk about on some of my favourite records.
I was already trying my hand at DJing here and there, I had one Technics 1210 at the time and a cheap mixer & I was using my Mum’s Hi-Fi record player as the second turntable. I would take my Mum’s record collection and fuck about sampling bits of French records through and aux lead out my mixer into a shitty soundblaster soundcard using a demo of Cool Edit ’96 to mix-paste sounds over each other.
I’d get drums from either open sounds on hip hop 12”s, CDs or breaks from break compilations and try and mix-paste them over bits of music. Then I’d loop the groove I had made, actually used a more evolved version of that method of making beats for years.
2. I notice you utilise live instrumentation, including the addition of an upright piano to your arsenal. Has this been a natural progression for you or have you always played keys and fucked with live/non sampled production?
It was definitely a natural progression, in the first 7 years or so (until 2005 or 06) I was completely sample based, I didn’t have any keyboards, didn’t know how to use midi. Didn’t know anything basically, I had an MPC 2000 and I was digging for samples, but was mainly using Cool Edit/Audition to sequence.
But as time goes by new things inspire you, new sounds come along and you want to learn new things, you get tired of the limitations of your equipment & skill set. One of the biggest problems I used to have were Basslines, without midi, a bass guitar or any keyboards I was really just limited to using 16 level function on the MP.
So the first synth I got was the Roland MC202, my boy DJ Kam (Beyond There/Mr Bongos) put me on to that being the machine that cats like DJ Spinna and supposedly Nottz used to get those ill bouncy sub baselines. It’s a really basic lil grey box with one sound you can shape and make do some dope shit, the keyboard is 2 octaves of square rubber buttons.
After that I bought a MicroKorg off my boy Chemo and when I got that I basically caught the bug for playing, I love the freedom it gives you in what you can do with song structure, beyond of course business implications.
Again I’m completely self taught, and 99% of the instrumentation in my music is played by me, I’m no virtuoso but I know how to get a good take. I’d say most of getting a good flavour to original tracks is in the sound design, the majority of preset sounds are meh, u need to tweak.
I’m always trying to learn about new bits of theory and technique, its fun learning new things and applying them. Also listening to a dope old joint and trying to break it down and figure out how they’ve made it, so you can apply that to whatever ur making.
I still sample here and there, but it’s pretty rare if my production is completely sampled, I’m all about those sample sounding textures though, most of my sample free material is about going for that aesthetic. Hence why I have stuff like a Farfisa Organ, Challen Upright, Juno-60, Guitars, various pedals, it’s pretty hard to recreate the feel of the instruments you hear in your favourite samples using VSTs.
The way I work these days is a stark difference to the old days, I don’t even keep much vinyl in the studio (mainly coz I don’t have much space for it).
Obviously from a business point of view, sampling has a lot of implications in terms of clearance & losing out on royalties & splits. Because of that, a lot of industry heads these days have issues with sampled beats, so it’s always good to have sample free stuff to play people.
3. What’s your current studio flow…pour up a drink/spark a spliff, find sample, loop drums, chop?
I don’t really have a standard flow, but quite often it involves either sitting behind an instrument or listening through sounds and samples and just vibing it out. Sometimes I will have a preconceived idea of what I want to make, but yeah it varies. I often spend days when I’m not feeling all that inspired making sounds & creating presets, so I got plenty of stuff to work with and so the flow is smooth when I’m building.
I do like my late night sessions with a bottle of Rum though, some of my best shit comes out of nights like that. I also really enjoy working the skeleton of an idea out with an artist into a song….
4. Name a producer or song that has changed your approach to drum programming.
There’s so many, through the eras, I think an obvious one was the Roc-a-fella Bink!/Just Blaze era. The way they were programming definitely made me completely switch my approach to drums, elaborate rolls and the use of toms and crashes.
After that era, the mid-late 2000s DJ Khalil, Hi-Tek, Jake One, & Focus had a big influence on me, kinda simplified my drums for a while because of what they were doing.
5. Incredible production but the MC let it down. Name a track or album like this.
I’m sure there’s loads but I can’t think of one off top tbh. I thought the beats on Right Said Fred’s album were banging, but the MC really let them down. Right Said Fred if you’re reading this, step ur bars up cuhz!
6. Practice, appreciation for the art and creativity are 3 things that make a good producer. How does these things translate into someone’s ‘signature sound’
For sure, I mean what you focus on in taste and in learning will translate into how you sound, I always feel like you can hear peoples influences in their signature sound. And of course practice will help you sound how you want to sound.
7. Tell us briefly about how you got to the point of securing tracks for the likes of Mobb Deep etc..Where did you catch the break?
Not really a simple answer to this question, but basically I been doing trips to the states since ’08, networking & just trying to be in the mix. There was no ‘break’, it’s all gradual…
8. You got 5k at your disposal, what are you going to buy for the stoods or would you take the nose blown and hookers route?
I’d build a shark pit in my studio or maybe an ejector seat, for when artists or a&r’s pass thru on some bullshit. If I had any left I’d get my arms replaced with grenade launchers, maybe start a charity for hip hop producers that have hooks for hands. It’s only 5k though, so mite just buy a snorkel and spend the rest on smoked mackerel pate.
9. If you had to pick it based off critical acclaim and longevity who would you pick out of Pete Rock and Large Professor and why?
I got a lot of love for both the soul brother and the live guy with glasses from Flushing, both have countless classics, but for me by a smidgen, it’s probably Pete Rock. It’s just a personal taste thing, both are legends but I just like more of Pete Rock’s catalog in total.
10. What do you see as the new trends for the ‘mass appeal’ in beat making?
Well I mean half time beats, machine gun note repeat hi hats & note bend 808 subs seem to be in every beat, or like just straight sample loop beats seem to be what everyone’s doing if they aint doing that.
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