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.
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…
This month we throw the 10 seconds out to another one of south sides finest. Dues paid, Servos been catching wreck for 15 plus years. A backbone to the soundscapes of Gaz Hazard and CRS, Servo’s is one of most original and slept on producers here in Australia in my opinion. I had the pleasure of a quick tour of the where the bedroom bangers get dusted.
1. Do you still make beats on Jeskola Buzz? Tell us a little more about it..When did you start using it and who taught you?
Yeah, I still use good ol Buzz tracker. It’s a free sequencer that runs on microsoft.net. I started using it At Bezrocks house (he was the only one with a computer) after Julian installed it and showed us how to use it. I guess I started using it around 2001 – 2002ish? I used it a lot more than Bez. He had a keyboard, he liked recording live sequenced mixes onto a DAT machine. Unfortunately we never did record them shits.
2. Can you remember what the first record you sampled was?
Would have been something like Sergio Mendes? Bez got all his grandmothers records when she passed away, she also donated the first record player that I had that worked properly.
3. Has the way you approach beat making changed since you’ve acquired your most recent piece of equipment/software?
Yeah, I finally got monitor speakers this year. I’m trying to get my stuff up to a better standard than the past however many years. I’m still going to keep the grime in as much as possible, unless it sounds wak and distorted like I tend to make shit! ha
4. Your sound has real lo-fi, crushed feel to it, sometimes it reminds me of some old 36 chambers shit. Is this something intentional, paying homage to the sound, so to speak?
I’ve always liked the grimey sound in music. I had a dodgy first set up running through my phono connection and really never had anything you could call a studio, so I got used to shit sounding dusted. I’ve always liked the sound of vinyl static and degraded samples on tracks, it gives it something else I think.
5. Production influences past and current.
Ummm.. All the usual. Pete Rock, Krush, Onra, Preemo, RZA. I’ve been listening to a bit of Suff Daddy lately.
6. Incredible production but the MC let it down. Name a track or album like this.
Anything U-God raps on. Someone had to say it! Ha, nah there’s a bit of stuff around, especially these days…
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 there’s a lot of things.. Beat patterns (drum sequence and samples, swing, effects etc..) sample choice, equipment they use. I tend to pick the drums of producers I like though.
8. How do you feel about this statement in the essence of beatmaking. “I found the same sample via you tube”
I’ve used youtube for sound effects and things. Its a great place to find the og samples of beats you like and shit.. My feeling about sampling songs from youtube…. I don’t think I would. It seems too easy or sumn?
9. 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?
Ha.. Id prolly buy a turntable and mixer, with the left overs I’d spend on ‘other pursuits’.
10. What production have you go in the works and who would you like to work with in the future?
I’ve always wanted to work with Len 1. I’ve been working on Gaz Hazards new LP and some CRS stuff. I’m trying to make a tribute mix to BEZROCK as well.. RIP.