Last Sunday, we stumbled upon a brand new beattape titled Proofs by a producer who goes by the name of "el.". Instead of just putting the tape up on our blog, we reached out for an interview to get to know a bit more about this talented beatmaker we hadn't heard of before and he was kind enough to take part.
I sometimes feel like my tracks are a little too simple. But some of my favorite producers also have beats that are of that same variety and I can listen to them over and over and not get tired of it
Yo el., what’s good? Can you give us a little introduction as to who you are and where you’re from?
Well, my name LaShawn, or “el.” for short. I’m from a small town in the state of Alabama but my father is in the military, so I have been fortunate enough to live all over the US. I’ve always been into music, and loved reading the liner notes of every CD my parents had in the house growing up. It wasn’t until I was maybe 13 or 14, and I seen a video of the legendary producer Just Blaze discussing how he actually used a program called Fruity Loops, that I began to try my hand at making beats. Prior to that, I had a Playstation game that you could make beats on but FL Studio is really the program that made me realize that beatmaking is something I want to become my craft in life.
Explain your sound to us?
My sound is very straightforward. Punchy kicks and snares over warm samples, sometimes accompanied by a nice bassline. I love finding cool loops that I can manipulate in a number of different ways whether it be done via pitching them up (or down), running them through low-pass filters, or keeping it authentic and chopping them. I sometimes feel like my tracks are a little too simple. But some of my favorite producers (i.e. Madlib) also have beats that are of that same variety and I can listen to them over and over and not get tired of it. I’m an instrumental producer, but I still think the most important instrument on any production, is the voice. I keep that in mind whenever I make a track, because the beat is a major component to a song, but that voice is what brings everything together. So, I try to leave room in my beats for artists to do their thing without too much going on in the background. I want to make it easier for artists of any style to contribute to my beats, and not have to compete with a million different intricacies in the background.
What are your musical influences?
Early on…Kanye was the main influence, as most people my age that make beats. I really wanted to produce music after hearing Late Registration. But I grew up in a household where the music by the likes of A Tribe Called Quest were being played just as much as artists from my region I grew up in, like UGK, Outkast, and a slew of other southern artists. But it wasn’t until I discovered guys like Madlib, Exile, Dilla, 9th Wonder, and even Samiyam that I began to base my own sound around, and eventually into what you hear today.
Can you tell us a little bit about your beat making process? What hardware, software and/or instruments do you use?
Everything starts with Maschine. I put down the skeleton of my tracks in there: chops, drums, and pretty much the skeleton of the track. Then from there, exporting to FL Studio for fx’s, added instruments, and of course the mixdown. My setup is very simple. Just a Maschine, midi keyboard, and a laptop. I don’t even have monitors yet (Haha).
I can’t listen to “93 Til Infinity” without picturing Souls of Mischief walking through the forest observing nature, or The Pharcyde’s “Drop” without picturing them walking in reverse while rapping, if that makes sense
Your music has a real 90’s feel to it. Is that the decade you get most inspiration from and if so, why?
The 90’s are definitely a major influence. Odd as it may sound, I get inspiration for my tracks by watching a lot of dope hip-hop videos from the 90’s with the sound off while creating. It just seems like everyone was on a vibe where the imagery was just as important as the music back then. For example, I can’t listen to “93 Til Infinity” without picturing Souls of Mischief walking through the forest observing nature, or The Pharcyde’s “Drop” without picturing them walking in reverse while rapping, if that makes sense. I envision a montage of these different videos when I create my music. The 90’s were truly the Golden Era of Hip-Hop, and it’s an era every generation from here on out could refer back to whenever they decide to pick up the craft.
Which artist right now is the one you’re most excited about, that you feel everyone should know about?
Artist I’m excited about? Everyone on the St. O’Donnell label alongside me! Haha, but seriously the collective of beatmakers/producers that offer a little bit of everything, genre-wise, and I’m excited for everyone to hear all the new content they’re releasing in the near future.
Which vocalist/MC would you love to collaborate with or do you prefer your music to be instrumental?
I’m all about my instrumentals. A shortlist of artists I wanna work with: Beya Likhari(!!), Arima Ederra, Tiffany Gouche, & Shiwan Small. I think I could do something dope if I could reach out to Ivan Ave one day.
A few quick dilemma’s:
- Sampling, VST or instruments?
Sampling with a few VST’s here and there, but not too much.
- Vinyl, CD or digital?
Love vinyl, but I’m a product of the digital era (I pull my samples from YouTube).
- J Dilla or Pete Rock?
J Dilla! Ironically, I think “T.R.O.Y.” by Pete Rock & CL Smooth is a top 3 Hip-Hop song and instrumental of all time!
What can we expect from you in the near future?
More collaborations to finish out the year, hopefully in the form of an EP. And more video content to compliment my music.
Listen to el.'s brand new beattape Proofs below: