We interviewed Abjo and talked about his work rate, his fondest musical memories and why “Murder$ in Grandeur” changed everything.
There’s no mistaking the talent of Abjo. His music rarely conforms to labels and is loved worldwide. Nobody needs to know what it’s called as long as they know they can rock out and body movement is always assured. Affiliations with the likes of Potholes In My Blog, Soulection and The Soul Dojo as well as collaborations with MeLo-X, DarkoTheSuper and LAKIM confirm his status as one of the hottest electronic producers around. In our interview, we touched upon his stature in the game as well as his approach to sampling and his five records that sum up his musical career.
(Image courtesy of Jaryl Cabuco)
Sampleface: When did you start making beats?
Abjo: Summer of 2006, approaching my last year of grade school/high school. One of the best summers of my young life, haha. I didn’t really get into it until after I graduated, when I finally made my first real production on my first day of the university life, for a rapper I didn’t know at the time…
SF: What sort of music did you listen to growing up?
A: Lots of jazz, classical, and 90’s hip hop. I was into Ludacris, E-40, or G-Unit or Jadakiss and the like, but I was really into anything before 1999. Wasn’t ’til after I had some wisdom and push in the right direction that I discovered I actually liked some hip hop of the new millennium, side from Eminem and Xzibit, which took me a minute to get into. Then, I was a full on fan of the Shady franchise and SAS, haha.
SF: What was the first hip hop track that caught your attention?
A: A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation”, that riff is unforgettable to me. One of my favorite samples of all time, hands down.
SF: Who influences your style?
A: The whole Soulection crew, I’ve entirely allow them to influence and motivate me. We’re just doin’ amazing things right now, I don’t see why not…
SF: You have a pretty prolific output, whether it’s full releases or just Soundcloud tracks. Do you ever feel you’re going too fast and have to take a moment to reign it back in or does it come naturally?
A: I did not too long ago, but now? I think I have a good pace, and it does come naturally, more so now than ever. People say I gave away too much too early. I say, it was the perfect amount to give out for me, if not anyone else, I had that much to say. Now, I’m more precise so to speak, so I put out less, but more complete sounds. Note that I haven’t put out an official release in a minute, though, that’s about to change…
SF: Do you think it is important to have a musical background, whether it be classically trained or just learning an instruments?
A: Nope. I have it, and in some cases, it would make me better than the next producer or beatmaker. But being a producer is more about seeing and hearing the pieces put together in the right place, which only takes a good ear and a passion to make something great. That being said, I think I have both of those covered, but I know plenty of producers with little to no musical background who make awesome music. Technology has changed that paradigm, clearly…
SF: Describe how you approach the making of a track.
A: I never start the same way. That’s pretty much the key there. To keep interested in making a track, the last one and the next one I make can’t sound the same. I’ll start with the drums one time, then the sample, then the synths, either the pads or the leads, and circulate that process over and over. Keeps me on my toes, you know? After that, everything is arbitrary, but it always ends with me tweaking and layering atop what I’ve already laid down.
SF: What equipment and/or instruments do you use?
A: Right now, I’m just using my trusty Yamaha Clavinova (digital upright piano/keyboard) to make beats with and an old M-Audio keyboard to control automation and what not. Friends at Native Instruments have managed to hook me up with a couple Traktor controllers to DJ with, though, shout out to Nick and the NI team for that!
SF: If money or availability weren’t an object, what piece of equipment would you want in your studio the most?
A: The finest studio monitors (and if money were no object, a boss audio interface to play them off of) that money could buy. Haven’t really looked that up yet, but Genelec’s or Dynaudio’s would be the way to go.
SF: Do you feel that your method / approach to sampling has changed over the years?
A: Maybe a little, but for the most part, I’ve adapted my process of sampling to every kind of music I like to make.
SF: You’re a member of Soulection with the likes of LAKIM, ESTA, IAMNOBODI and Ta-Ku. Do you see yourself/yourselves as part of the future of electronic music?
A: I do, but I always remember we’re just one installation in the whole paradigm of electronic music, so though we like to say we’re “the sound of tomorrow” (which I truly believe we are), we’re just a scoop of all that is new and brilliant in the electronic music scene.