Monday, November 7, 2011

Interview with Vanderslice (Too Hot for a Shirt)

Boom Bap Renaissance recently linked up Vanderslice a beatmaker/producer outta "Pistolvania". Vanderslice has worked Blaq Poet, Apathy, Vinnie Paz, Roc Marciano and more.  Boom Bap Renaissance was able to connect with Vanderslice via phone interview. Vanderslice talks about how he got started in production, why he doesn't really solicits beats to any artists and who his favorite MC"s is that he likes working with. If you don't know who Vanderslice is : GET FAMILIAR!

Boom Bap Renaissance:  First and foremost where you from?
Vanderslice:  I’m from Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.  It’s a suburb right outside of Philly.  It’s like a half hour away from Philly.

Boom Bap Renaissance:  What inspired you to make beats?
Vanderslice:  Uh, me and my cousin used to rap, and we fucking couldn’t be running out of instrumentals and shit so I bought a Boss SP 202 in 1998 and I started looping up Gangstarr instrumentals that didn’t have vocals, like I would chop the intro and chop out enough to make a bootleg version of the instrumental and that’s how I started making beats.

What equipment do you use now to make your beats?
I use a Rowland SP 606 and pro-tools basically, that’s it.

What producers inspired you to make beats?
Alchemist is probably one of my biggest influences, Just Blaze and if it wasn’t for Premier I would have never even started it.  Like those 3 guys are the backbone of what I do.  Alchemist is like my biggest influence.  I’ve always loved his shit, and he’s just my biggest influence.

That’s what a lot of people say about you on the You Tube that you have an Alchemist influence.
Yeah yeah yeah, I never shy away from that ever.  I’ve worked with Al…. I never shy away from that ever.

Do you mix your own beats or do you use an engineer?
I use an engineer.  I use Scott Stallone, he’s a legend!  He does all kinds of music.  That’s important to me.  I think a lot of guys who are just hip hop dudes they don’t really know how to mix, but you gotta get dudes that are like into Rock, Jazz, whatever kind of music you need mixed, because he brings the most out of my music for me.  He’s the best engineer I know.  He mixes all the Jedi Mind Tricks stuff.  He’s got like plaques on the wall and shit.   He’s even worked with Brittney Spears and shit, this guy is a beast!

Do you shop your own beats, or do you have a manager or…..?
Nah Nah.  I do everything myself.  I don’t even shop beats really, I don’t solicit beats to anybody.  If you want beats man, because I don’t really…. I have a few people I send beats to.  Like Rhythm J. sends my stuff to other people, peace to Rhythm J.  I send beats to J. Grieves who works at RCA, and a few other people but I really don’t silicate beats all like that man.  I work with who I work with.  You know what I mean?  If people need beats, they know how to find me.  I’ve worked with a lot of people, I know a lot of people man, I don’t know.  I need some management.  I definitely need a liaison.  I’m an asshole like that.  (laughs)

(laughs)  No doubt.  So mostly people come at you right?

That must be lovely right there.
It is, it’s nice, but it’s very limited.  It’s limited.  It’s not a lot of room for growth when you aren’t really out there like that.

Getting back to sampling, and beatmaking, where do you dig for your samples at and what type of samples do you mostly use?
I dig all over the place.  I’m very fortunate in that regard, because I’ve been digging for years… all over Philadelphia, New York, down in Maryland, I got a few people in Baltimore, but right now I have a guy… like my man Gene Brown.  He brings me joints man, and I’m super fortunate, and I’ve been getting records from Jared from Satellite Records for years as well.  My favorite genre of music are like Library Music Soundtracks, and right now I’m getting into more rock.  See, I try to find these private press records that are from groups that never made it.  Like groups that sound like Styx, but they are not Styx.  If that makes any sense.  Like keyboard infused rock, like AOR type shit.

Another great place to go digging for samples are like Goodwill's and Thrift Stores.
Yeah absolutely.  Anytime I go anywhere, it’s like an old trick, I just look in the phone book and look up record stores and go do a dig.  Bookstores.  Like there are a lot of spots in Pennsylvania like Flea Markets.  Like there is a Flea Market called Zerns in Gilbertsville, PA and there is a shop dude who is from Canada.  He’s a Polish, Jewish guy, but he’s originally from Poland, but he moved to Canada and lived there, and if you go to his store he’s got like these old Polish rock records that you’ll never find them unless you were actually in Poland.  I paid like 2 or 3 dollars a piece for them and I’m about to kill them thank god!  And I don’t even mind putting that out there because he’s very peculiar, because if you don’t know him he’s not gonna show you any love, ’cause he’s like an old ornery dude.  (laughs).

Being that you work with a lot of underground artists, you aren’t really working with a lot of mainstream artists right now… do you ever have to clear samples?
Nah that’s ridiculous.  People that focus on that kind of shit really need to take a look in the mirror or just focus their efforts elsewhere.  Like if you’re really worried about clearing samples then, I don’t know man then you’re missing the point.  Like DJ Premier doesn’t clear samples, and he’s one of the that I…. and it’s very rare you see him clear samples.  It’s getting to the point now recently where these websites pop up like The Breaks and shit, where people list your samples… straight snitching.  Big time snitching.  It’s better to protect yourself and try to clear your shit, or get stuff replayed.  That kind of shit, until I get stung it’s never gonna really effect me.  You know what I mean?  I have to be honest.  I don’t care about clearing samples.  If I ever get stung then I’ll be worried about clearing samples.  Until then…. (laughs)

Has an artist ever not taking a beat because a sample wasn’t cleared?

So if they like they are going to rock with it?

Like I feel like that movie, Soul Men… “Fuck you and your bassline”… you know what I mean?  In that movie like “fuck you and your bassline I made that shit gangster”, like in that movie.
Yeah, seriously though man.  Another reason I don’t really care about sample clearances, is because what I’m sampling… it’s just no way man.  You are not going to find that record man.  It could be some private press shit from some guy in Tennessee that only sold 200 copies in like 1978.  It’s not going to even be publishing on the record, so  you’ll never gonna be able to find it.

So you get 100% of your publishing then?
Yeah, I’m not sampling shit like the Rolling Stones.  You know what I mean?

So are you strictly sampled based?
Yeah.  Other than the stuff I get replayed, but even the stuff I get replayed is from the samples so yeah I’m still sampled based?

Getting back to the artists, who are some of the favorite artists you’ve worked with? 
Favorite artists that I’ve worked with? 
Blaq Poet.  Blaq Poet because he just doesn’t give a fuck.  (laughs).  I like that.  I’ve worked my man AWAR, very closely… his record is stacked!  We got Alchemist beats, Sid Roams, Jake One… Nottz.  So we are working on a record with just me and him now.  I’ve worked with Apathy, I like Apathy a lot.  A lot of people think he’s an asshole.  I get that same rack.  So we connect on that level, but he’s like a really good friend of mine now.  Other than that, like I don’t know… I like Vinnie Paz I love fucking with.  I haven’t worked with him in a while, but I have nothing but love and respect for that dude.  He cut me one of my first real rap checks ever.  You know what I’m saying, so I’m very loyal to that dude.  I’ve worked with Planet Asia.  I don’t know man… shit we working on this record, everybody we worked with on that one, we have Alchemist rhyming on it.  Apathy, Evidence,  Roc Marciano, I’ve never had any bad experiences with any rappers I’ve worked with.

How did you link up with Blaq Poet?
Stu knows him.  Him and Stu worked in like the early 2000s for Stu’s first mixtape.  It was just called Stu Bangas Vol. 1 and he was on that shit.  We were like fuck it, lets just start a record.  He called Poet up, and Poet was down, he just got off [his former label] Year Round and he really didn’t have anything on his plate.  We already had all the beats already done and we were like “fuck it lets just do this”, and that’s how it came together.  Stu hooked up all the features and shit and we just connect.  We were trying to bridge the gap.  Like trying to bring his world to ours.  That’s why you see Vinnia Paz on it, RA the Rugged Man is on it,  and you know what I mean.  We tried to take the streets to our level so that we could try to connect fan bases and grow that way.

Who would you like to work with that you haven’t worked with already?
Oh my god.  I’m at the point I don’t even know man.  I fucking hate rappers.  Rapper are just…. I would like to work with people that don’t really make music like that like I want to work with Lord Finesse.   My favorite rapper that is rapping right now is probably like…. I don’t know, I can’t even tell you… like Roc Marciano, and I’ve already worked with Roc.  I don’t know man.  I like hood dudes, I want to work with  the NYGz.  M.O.P. I want to work with.  I want to work with people like Blu or Edan, like that  far out shit.  Man, my favorite rapper ever is Lord Finesse.  I’d love to work Finesse man, but he’s not even doing it like that anymore, at least not on the rap tip.  He’s like, he dropped a breaks mix not too long ago and it’s crazy!

Finesse was ill with the lyrics though.
And the beats man.

How did you hook up with Stu Bangas?
I bought records off of him.  From eBay no less.  I bought 3 records from him off eBay that I was looking for that he was slinging.    He hit me up and he was like “you’re Vanderslice?” and I was like “yeah man”.  See me and him have very similar ears for samples and records and shit.  We have a very similar style.  So we were like “fuck it, lets link up”.  So we just linked up.  He was cool.  I don’t know man, we think alike.  We are like minded individuals, so it was like a natural progression.      

Who’s nicer on the beats you or Stu?
(laughs out loud)  I am, I’m a beast over Stu.  Nah nah, we rocked a showcase together like a two weeks ago in Philly it was dope.  It was me and our people.  It was dope.  I don’t know who’s nicer than.  (says in a jokenly way), Nah nah nah, I’m nicer, I’m the best ever (laughs).  I’m bullshitting, but nah I’m the best ever.  (laughs).

Do you get in the studio with any of these artists or do you send beats or how do you normally do it?
It depends.  I try to, not that often man.  It’s very hard ‘cause a lot of these dudes they either record in their house and a lot of people don’t really like people coming over to their cribs, and a lot of them live out of state.  Obviously like Apathy lives in Connecticut.  AWAR I record in the studio… he lives out in New Jersey and he comes down here and we record at Stallone’s.  I definitely work in person with him, but like with Apathy and Evidence that shit’s just not happening.

Does beat making pay your bills or do you work a job as well?
Nah I don’t have a job, but beat making isn’t really paying the bills.  I just own a lot of samples and a lot of records, and beats supplement.  You know what I mean?  Like I don’t have a job, I haven’t a day job in years.  The records is my job, you know what I mean.  The records and the sample shit.  It’s more money than beats.  That’s where I’m headed at.  It’s just something I’m passionate about.  I look at it like a job.  I work it like a job.  I have business hours and shit.

If you don’t mind me asking, what’s like the most money you’ve received for a beat?
For one beat?

Yes, for one beat…
I try to package deals for dudes.  The most I’ve ever sold for one beat is $1,750 for like some dude in Jersey.  He was living kind of foul anyway, and I knew he had the money so I didn’t really care.

So your beats are relatively inexpensive then?
Yeah yeah yeah, I try to charge anywhere between…well, right now with all the stuff I’m working on I don’t have time to be doing collabos and shit, so the cheapest I’ll work is like $500.

Do you give any artists any free beats?
Yes yes.  If I’m impressed.  If I like you… lets say if I want to work with you, absolutely.  The thing is with the money, the money shit off the music?  I’d rather make good music than to get any $500.  $500 isn’t a whole lot of money.  I can slang one record and get $500.  If you have rarities, and shit it’s pretty much a front row ticket as far as records go, and with hip hop shit I’d much rather work on music, unlike the individuals that  try to make the clearances and just try to cash in on this shit.

Has anyone ever stole any beats from you?
I’m not going to say any names, but yeah (laughs).

Did you ever go after them or what?
Nah, see the thing is… the beats that got jacked from me are usually from people that I fuck with.  Like from people that are connected to them.   Like you know what I’m saying, I’ll sell a beat to somebody and one of their homies will jack one of our beats and I’m like “this guy”, you know.  (laughs).

How many beats do you make a day?
I try to make one keeper a day.  That’s quota.  Right now I’m working with my partner out in Chicago.  He does a lot of keys and accents and shit.  I’ll chop up the sample, flip the drums and I’ll just send it to him, to see what he can do.  If he can make some magic happen we’ll work it that way, otherwise I’ll just finish it myself.  You know what I mean.  I just try to make one keeper a day.  I’m much more quality over quantity.   You know what I mean, a lot of dudes say “I’m gonna make 10 beats a day” then 8 of them are wack, so I’m like “whatever”.

What is the hardest part of beatmaking for you?
Wow the hardest part of beat making is… I would say, finding the right sample.  I’m not too keen on rappers, and every rapper that ever hits you up always has some sort of a request.  “Yo could you flip this sample or could you patch this up for this beat again” and I’m not really to keen on that shit.  So it’s like when I sit down and make beats  I don’t really think about “oh I can send this beat to Apathy or I can send this to whoever”, I pretty much make my music for myself.  So the hardest part for me is to actual try to find stuff that I can send to people that I think would sound good on.  I just don’t have that in me.  I don’t know man, it’s weird, because I just make music for myself.  I think the foundation of it all is just the hardest part, and I’ve been past that for so many years.  Finding records or finding samples I’ve never had any problems with that at all.  I could find records everywhere… I could dig up my own crates and find some shit I had, just sitting in the crates for two or three years and flip that.  You know what I mean?  So the hardest part for me is all post, like trying to get songs done.

Have you ever tried to make a beat and nothing comes out?
Oh yes of course.  I get beat block.  When that happens I just play Call of Duty or something, I’ll just be like “alright fuck it”.

As a beat maker do you have any goals for the next five years?
In the next five years?  Nah, my only goals are to stay out of prison and stay level headed (laughs).    Just stay grounded, even like when I was saying earlier when you asked who is the nicest and I said “yo I’m the nicest!!” and I’m like yo.. How many people you heard say that and they are the most annoying people and you just want to slap ‘em.  I live in the moment man.  My goals is just trying to keep moving forward.  Any forward movement is big with me.  Forward thinking.  Sometimes all these “take it back” dudes… man, all this vintage shit isn’t really vintage shit, it’s just a cheap imitation of what it used to be, and I don’t feel none of that shit.  I’m just trying to push it forward man.  Just trying to make it futuristic, but vintage.  Futuristic and vintage, that’s the best way I can describe it.  That and just stay out of trouble.

Yo, what’s with the videos of you with no shirt on?
I don’t know man, like yo I try to portray the image that I don’t care man.  It’s hot up here!  I’m on the 3rd floor I can’t be wearing no shirt man!  It brings out a lot of haters like “that fat guy ain’t got on no shirt man!”.  Focus on the music and not on my man boobs.  They like to think that I don’t know  that  I’m fat.  I’m like I know, I got it.  I’m overweight.  I just like to throw that in their face.

What advice would you like to give up and coming beat makers?
The only advice I can really give is just don’t what you do.  The thing is man, If you put the work in it will tell.  A lot of people don’t want to put the work in.  That’s one of the reasons I’m not working a job.  That’s one of the reasons why I can do what I do.  I overcharge mother fuckers like crazy.  If I go find the record, I don’t care if I paid a dollar for it.  I know what a hot sample is.  A sample is gonna cost you 50, 75 dollars a piece.  I capitalize off people that don’t want to do the work.  If you believe in what you are doing, and you put the work in it will pay off.  You know what I’m saying.  It’s gotta be full time.  You can’t do this part time.  Trust me. I’m not even on the level.  If you are trying to get to where I’m at, aim higher (laughs).  My gauge for success is to be able to wake up and go to sleep whenever I want.  Yo, if I don’t have to get up and go do something I’m winning.  I don’t care how.  If the rent is paid I’m good.  I’m definitely far from rich.  I’m not even close to being rich.  It’s hard man.  It’s only getting harder man, because it’s over-saturated, there are so many people that are garbage. 

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