Studio engineer, emcee and producer, Ciecmate takes some time out to have a conversation with us about how his production journey started, his equipment and the changes over years plus a few tips for other producers/engineers out there. Acknowledge the man that’s put in so much work on and off the court for one of Australia’s most consistent Hip-Hop labels.
The first of many interviews from a recent trip to Melbourne, Australia. We took some time out of our hangover to take a studio tour and have a conversation with Melbourne MC/Producer, Dazed. Cheers!
Producing with Buda the Future as the duo know as Buda Grandz, together they’ve produced for a lot of talent over the years with placements on some big industry records yet still working with closely and maintaining working relationships with a handful of underground artists. Thanks to Grandz Muzik for taking time out for 10 seconds of sample time. I fucked up and gave dude an older version with the tenth question omitted. Obviously he’s a busy man so I’ll run it like this and if he ever get back to me on who he’d pick between Buckwild and Dimond D, I’ll be sure to edit the post.
1. You get a creative urge at a time outside when you normally work. What’s do you do? Do both you and Buda build off solo ideas that may have been demo’s during these creative urges. How do you work?
Yes we do. Sometimes I’ll get an idea, and I’ll start it on the laptop, and when we meet we will finish the track. And sometimes he has some ideas on his laptop, and I’ll finish them off when we get together in the studio. We make sure we meet at least 3 times a week to get work done. It’s always different, other times we just create from scratch when we are in the lab.
2. Your tracks complete minus the drums. Your choices for layering are ‘The Honey Drippers – Impeach the President’ and ‘Skull Snaps – It’s a new day’. Which do you choose and why?
I’m a big fan of the impeach the president drum break, it’s probably one of the most used breaks of all time in hip hop. There’s a reason for that, I think it’s because it’s such a clean fat recording and the swing is crazy on it.
3. Name a producer or song that has changed your approach to sampling.
For me it’s probably DJ Premier, when I listen to the original sample he used on a lot of his tracks, I’m always amazed on how he flips it. He can take the smallest portion of the sample, and turn it into a masterpiece. Rza also has a great ear for samples.
4. Are there any underground MC’s that have caught your ear which you would like to or are currently working with?
As far as underground MC’s I gotta be honest, I’m usually out the loop. Buda has his ear to the street more than I do. I usually try and stay away from the radio, and Internet whenever possible. That’s why we work so well together, we compliment each other’s strengths.
5. Incredible production but the MC let it down. Name a track or album like this.
Not really into specifically calling anyone out. Can’t think of any project in particular. But there are plenty of albums/tracks I don’t like. Lol
6. What do you think gives a producer a signature sound, how much do you think equipment/software and sample selection has to do with it over their processes used?
I think when a producer uses similar elements/sounds in a lot of his/her beats it gives them a signature sound. It can even be the way his tracks are mixed that can give him that sound. I am a firm believer that equipment and software have very little to do with your sound. I can make a track in Ableton, fruity loops, logic, or pro tools. And it still will sound the way I want. It comes from the mind and not the software.
7. Can you tell us a little bit more about the Vidstrumental project your working on?
We are working on a vidstrumental project right now. It’s gonna be a collection of beats we have made that have a certain feeling to them. They are beats that we can visualize a story from. We are just looking for the right director to put all our ideas together.
8. How do you feel about this statement. “I found the sample on you tube” Do you think sampling from an online sources takes away something from the art of beatmaking?
Not necessarily, again it’s all up to the individual and how creative they get with it. There are producers that dig all day everyday, and make wack beats. But on the flip side there are others that sample themselves or take a super popular sample and make a masterpiece.
9. If you had 5k cash at your disposal when you first started out what would have you bought sooner for your studio
Definitely a faster better iMac, lol. Having a dated or slow computer can really hinder your creative process.
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.
Beat Butcha on Soundcloud
@beatbutcha_soi on socials
This month for our 10 seconds sample time segment I reached out to one of our country’s pioneers, Melbourne’s Trem one to get his insight and perspective on production in the culture.
1. What was your first piece of equipment you made a beat on and who taught/mentored you?
As far as actually makin a beat? I first started playin round with two boombox’s speaker to speaker recording the break part of old school rap tracks usin’ the pause button method, then elevated to recording break-beats on wax when i got my 12’s and started seein’ how it worked. Eventually my eyes opened up to actual sampling thru my old homie DJ Frenzie and then DJ Idem. Idem’s weapon of choice back then was a Roland W-30 which seemed to be the stock selection for many Melbourne producers.
I ended up buying Prowla’s old W-30 not too long afterwards when he upgraded to the Akai S-1000 and cut my teeth on the art-form of sampling at home with that 8bit grit. Id been in a stack of sessions with all those guys looking and learning but Prowlz was definitely responsible for running me thru the extended process in detail so I could go about my business unhindered. As it turned out Rob and I ended up with his S-1000 as well and that was when I really started motoring on with production and started to formulate actual tracks.
Although as every producer knows, self teaching is part of the fun, the schooling I received from some of Melbourne’s greatest in the game was invaluable. Frenzie, Idem, Prowla and Jase all played hands on mentoring parts in varying degrees.
What’s your current weapon of choice for knocking something out?
I switch and change, I’ve used all from the W-30 to S-9, S-1000, ASR, MP and FL Studio… To be perfectly honest I’ve recently had a lil hiatus from the beat making game to focus on other aspects of the production process but in the lab at present is the trusty S-1000 for sampling. Sequencing wize I use Nuendo for all tracking from beat stems to vox.
3. How did you approach FTTOHNL from a production point of view in comparison to your previous solo ep’s which where such a long time ago…Did you dig back through the vaults for some beats or just mash out over a set time period and knock out a specific sound that you visualised.
It was a combo, my initial idea was to self produce the entire thing with the exception of one or two, but alot of the beats I had in the vault for my solo ended up getting used on crew product and I moved a couple others on to artists I thought they suited. Then my direction switched a little with the release as it progressed and I wanted more external input from the producto side of things. I guess that was a bi-product of me mentally transforming back into emcee mode.
The process took as long as it took to write the album, I legitimately sifted thru hundreds and thousands of beats from all over to fit the mould of what I was keeping of my own and to bring into the same frame as what was already established for the
4. Last production I heard from you was on P-Link’s – In my Element and the latest being from Kings Konekted – The Campaign. Are you very selective about who you give/sell your beats too or will we see more production from you, outside the circle you’ve already worked with?
Yes and know, my biggest bug bear is not having control once you let go of the production. Id rather work an entire release, even if I didn’t make the beats for every track, Id want to be involved in the whole thing to ensure the vision is executed correctly. I’m a little control freakish with that sorta shit, I hate hearing releases with varying producers and it’s all over the shop. It’s really gotta be conducive or it just comes off amateur. This happens way too much. Learning what suits your style and spending that extra time in getting your beats to all sit on the same plain is paramount in my opinion
5. I like your simplified approach to your beats with the intent for the MC to be the front man. How do you flip your samples without things sounding too overdone.
Cheers man, yep, no tricks. Straight up and down. I have alot of appreciation for beat makers who get flexi with it but unless your doin some instro only type shit Id much rather keep it reasonably simple for the MC to go for theirs. Drums are paramount, no doubt but it’s ALWAYS been the loop that gets me, from a dope double bass loop to some ill strings or nasty piano licks, when you hear that 1,2 or 4 bar loop that just makes you put your drink down and go what the fuck was that, rewind, that’s the shit. You know when you can just have it on loop with no additive for hours, that’s what I look out for first and foremost
6. Incredible production but the MC let it down. Name a track or album like this
Ohh, yeah, nice question… its a hard one…Id love to join in the chorus of many and say Group Homes first or Necro but they both really work! Fuck, this is hard… I’m sure I’ll think of something that fits this question better but off the head, without going thru the stash, U-God on most early Wu comes to mind.
7. What do you think gives a producer a signature sound, how much do you think equipment/software and sample selection has to do with it over their processes used.
I think it varies, and has done for ever. Ced Gee had the ill drum programming, Marley had the ill soul loops. RZA work them off time pianos and Preem made classics with half bar rawness on repeat. Any and all achieved greatness with varying record selections and equipment. From splicing samples with reel tape to SP12’s and MPCs, its all relevant. I think the signature just comes with mastering whatever works for you.
8. Name a track/album or producer that changed the way you approach your sequencing/sample chops.
Fuck… Yeah another good one, um… I can’t really say I’ve changed my shit since the beginning. I’ve never tried to re-create the wheel, that late 80’s to early 90’s style is what i adapted and continue to build with.
9. If you had to pick it based of critical acclaim and longevity who would you pick out of Dr Dre and DJ Premier and why?
Preem for mine on all accounts. I hate to sound blasphemous but since NWA Dre’s shit hasn’t done alot for me. Some cool shit here and there no doubt, but I’d take that rawness over the polish all day and Primo has perfected it.
10. How would Sheer Talent sound in 2015.
I think beat wize it would stand up. I think lyrically it needs a little refinement, but the body is still there. I think the vocal delivery and overall mix needs a shitload of work but that’s a part of the learning process. It is what it is. But I’d take the pepsi challenge on the instros for sure, that shit still bangs…