We asked Blockhead about life as a successful producer and his show this Saturday in NYC, “Friends with Benefits”
LiS: What was your first break into the hip hop scene that got you noticed and producing professionally? Of course your career didn’t happen overnight, but was there a project or song that took things to the next level?
Blockhead: The first thing I ever did that got put out (by me) was “Music For Earthworms” by Aesop Rock. I only had one beat on the whole album but I was selling it online, pretty much a one man distribution company. That was the first exposure I ever got. But I’d say the first time people actually took notice of me was on “Float”. After that, I started getting calls from people interested in my production.
LiS: You’ve made tracks for a long list of great MCs. Where is the money at for beat-makers today, in solo instrumental projects or rap collaborations? Which do you enjoy more?
Blockhead: I’d say the money is in licensing music. Getting a song in a big commercial is more money than any advance I’ll ever get. After that, it depends on the project. Working with some MC’s can be lucrative and working with others isn’t. I wouldn’t say I have a preference, I enjoy doing both and it’s nice to have separate processes.
LiS: Is your music strictly made up of samples or do you use synthetic or organic instruments? How do you deal with legality? Any advice for finding good, inexpensive samples?
Blockhead: I’d say its about 90% samples. I play out some of the bass lines and drums as well and I have people come in and play guitar if needed. As far as sample clearance, I’ve learned to just dig a little deeper. Still, it’s never not an issue and labels are scared to death no matter how obscure you get. I stopped buying records a while back. Nowadays I troll through obscure music blogs and download albums. Not only does it not cost anything, I’m finding records I otherwise would have never heard or been able to afford.
LiS: What software are you using in your live show? What are the challenges in spinning this type of music?
Blockhead: I use Ableton Live and I play with a DJ. Bringing a studio based music to a stage is always kinda weird. I can’t exactly bring my huge, unreliable sampler on stage so I had to start using Ableton. I find, as long as the crowd is willing to overlook that it’s just me nerding out on a computer, the show goes over well. It’s not that much to watch but the music holds its own.
LiS: Ninja Tune works with some of the best electronic artists. How does it feel to be a part of such a special label? Do you see any collaborations coming from that network?
Blockhead: It’s funny, I’m very removed from that network. Not cuz I dislike it, but I’m here in the US and most of the other Ninja artists are European. So there’s not much opportunity for collaboration. It does feel awesome though to be a part of such a historic label.
LiS: Where do you like to perform best?
Blockhead: I prefer doing shows out West. The crowds are much more responsive, East coast crowds are notoriously hard to get through to. My friends don’t really give a shit about my music so performing for them is pretty pointless, they’re all jaded 30 year olds. Worst audience types ever.
LiS: What can we expect at this Production 54 party on the 20th?
Blockhead: It’ll be me and DJ Signify rocking an hour long set. He scratches and adds flair while I rock Ableton. My set is a mixture of parts of my songs mashed up with all sorts of other music from rare soul to over the top corny shit that I think is funny. It’s all over the place.
PRODUCTION 54 presents FRIENDS with BENEFITS:
the next best thing… two rooms of music, art and ambiance.DETAILS:
This Saturday, February 20th from 11 pm to 11 am @ secret location in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
BLOCKHEAD w/ DJ SIGNIFY – live set; with digital animation by BRIAN ALFRED
Blockhead – A beatmaker best known for his work with indie rap icon Aesop Rock and other members of the Def Jux family, New York’s Blockhead is revered for his signature production style, which fuses classic hip-hop with mellow downtempo sensibilities. With his 3rd release on major UK label Ninja Tune still buzzing from its November release, Blockhead is not a guy you should feel comfortable missing.Brian Alfred
– Influenced by Japanese prints, propaganda posters and cartoons, Brian Alfred creates collages, paintings and digital animations depicting banal, urban environments. Often touching on themes of civil unrest, globalization, technology and social opposition, Brian’s animations have been featured in premier film festivals worldwide, with soundtracks by artists such as Flying Lotus and Ghislain Poirier. His artwork can be found in collections in the Guggenheim, Whitney and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
KEV OBRIEN (stranjjur) – live set
Kev Obrien is a man on a mission. As a founding member and 1/3 of the group Stranjjur, Kev is working non-stop to push the groove and funk-focused house and techno that his fast-growing international fanbase knows and loves. Having spent many years entrenched in Florida’s club and rave scene, Kev recently transplanted from the Sunshine State to take on the concrete jungles of NYC; and he hasn’t looked back–or come up for air–since.
THE WIZARD DJ BRIAN COXX
DJ Brian Coxx is always FRESH. Fusing rock, funk, soul and house to motivate the party people from all walks of life, Brian Coxx’s diverse musical background is what sets him apart from the new jack D.J.s that have flooded the New York market as of late. Coxx has been known to drop the needle on anything from the psychedelic rock of Jimi Hendrix to the dubbed out sounds of Lee Perry, while always working peoples’ minds as well as their bodies. As Coxx likes to say, “Remember how it used to be? IT STILL IS.”
Bringing you an up beat, fast paced blend of electro, disco, house, and drum n bass, CougarSkin hits the decks with only one goal in mind: to get everyone dancing. Starting out playing house parties n underground raves, CougarSkin rose up within the NYC electro scene, making party goers jump up-n-down wherever he went. Currently the DJ for up coming band Rocky Business, expect to feel CougarSkin’s presence more often.
Strolling the streets of lower Manhattan one night, Tucci overheard an enticing sound emanating from a nearby club. Immediately hooked on progressive house and techno, Tucci began deejaying house parties and later producing. Having appeared alongside live sensations Orchard Lounge and Brothers Past, Tucci now explores powerful yet tasteful dance music with his Ableton Live mixing software. Is playing to packed clubs and underground parties nearly EVERY weekend tiring? Nah, says Tucci: “I can sleep when I’m deaf.”
Fresh off their European tour, Ninjasonik emerges in Brooklyn to bring the party –
“Ninjasonik are tha future. Easy to love hard to hate (unless you’re a hater), Ninjasonik come from a place of pure adulation for what they get to do and the good people they get to do it with. Rhythms and synths so filthy they make songs about pregnancy, aids, and tight pants seem like odes to the dancefloor and the company of friends. You already know!” –popmontreal.com
Production 54’s resident king: DARKENCOUNTER
plus special guests TBA!
Sound by A.M. Bionik Universe, INC.
Deco by Clementine’s DesignsAerial Dance & Performance Art by Seanna Sharpe
Lights by Production 54 & LiveEventPROS
Video delights by MAX NOVA
Style by RELUXE
More details to follow on additional live performances and artists! Expect surprises.
B.BOY P.54: win a FREE TICKET to the party!
We are pleased to announce Production 54’s innagural breakdancing contest! Submit a short clip of your best moves by sending an email to email@example.com
or posting to the facebook page. Top three entries will each win a free ticket
to the party on Feb 20th and two free drinks! All entries will receive a free drink at the the door! What have you got to lose?
Find P.54 on:
twitter – Don’t miss out on last minute invites and underground parties!
Blockhead – The Music Scene – CD release show – Mercury Lounge
[flashvideo file=”http://firstname.lastname@example.org/wp-content/videos/blockheadLiSvid.flv” /]