In celebration of the 5-year anniversary of his irreverent record label Hot Mom USA, Shiftee shares the first EP in his expansive & diverse audio/visual series “& Beyond”. Rather than just drop the project in online music stores, Shiftee is releasing 10 unique live performance routines. In this feature, we talked with Shiftee about his new & Beyond video series, DJing, and the world-champion DJ’s plans for the future.
Van Full of Drugs ft. Manus
“Boom Bap & Beyond” is described as “taking it back to his roots as a world champion turntablist”. What compelled you to go back to your roots to create this EP as well as the routines?
“I’ve always been interested in & DJed all kinds of music, whether it be bass music, club, weird stuff, whatever. But my heart is in hip hop, and as I’ve grown more as a producer, I’ve found that hip hop is where I feel the most at home in terms of making music. I can bring in all kinds of elements, but at the end of the day, I’m happiest working with a dope vocalist and making a rap song.”
Each routine in this series showcases his ability to perform outside of the two turntable dynamic. Shiftee explores all aspects of his music through each routine, whether he is slicing up vocals, laying down a melody on the Kontrol S25, or bringing the beat to life through finger-drumming.
“The routines show where my head is at as a turntablist & performer. I’m personally a bit tired of the idea of like flipping someone else’s song or doing some clever mix with other people’s music. I’ll still flip songs, mix, and do all that in DJ sets of course, but I want my turntablist side to focus on my own music. Like a band. The technology is so advanced that there is no reason I can’t approach the turntables from an artist perspective. My goal is to use my skills as a vehicle for the music, rather than the other way around.”
Dumb Shit ft. Fly Kiason
How do you build each routine? For instance, how do you decide what to play on the Kontrol S25, what to play on the Maschine, and what to spin on the decks?
“Each song is different. I typically start in the Ableton session for the song as I produced it. And then I go through and think about which elements would be the most exciting to perform live in each section of the song.
So maybe it’s like intro = scratching vocals, chorus 1= scratching vocals, verse = keys, outro = drums. Then once I have a general map for what gets done when, I bounce everything out and then work with the live parts to find cool ways to execute it. Usually vocals = turntables, synths = keys, drums = Maschine.”
Shiftee’s setup is more dynamic than what is perceived. He utilizes Traktor and Ableton simultaneously to play each routine:
“I use Traktor & Ableton. I use Maschine to control Traktor. And then the keyboard to control Ableton, both for launching clips and playing synths. All the sound comes out of my Traktor Kontrol Z2 mixer as the soundcard.”
i siiip ft. Kash Tha Kushman
How did you create each performance? Did you produce each track in a DAW and then compartmentalize it into samples and stems or did the tracks start as routines?
“All the routines started as productions in Ableton, and then I moved them to routines by bouncing out various stems and samples. I do try to incorporate scratching into my productions as much as possible though. So a lot of times the cuts in the video are the same cuts I used in making the song.”
Most DJs and producers dropping new material do so through social media campaigns and only release online. This project is totally different – and Shiftee explained to us the challenge and idea of creating routines for the EP:
“I love figuring out how to make performance pieces & also the practicing that goes along with them. Recently I made 3 routines in 3 days for a corporate client. I was like, “why don’t I work like this for my own music?” So I thought, let’s try a nerd Beyonce kind of thing: drop an album + 10 routine videos, all at once with no warning.
Eventually I decided on a different release strategy, but I really went and made all 10 routines and practiced them to be ready for filming in a very short amount of time. Maybe 2-3 weeks. We then filmed them all in one weekend, hitting 3 locations over the course of 3 days. It was an awesome challenge and definitely made me step up my game.”
I Wanna Be Like Mase ft. Andre Martel
A project like “Boom Bap & Beyond” requires the talent and help of multiple artists:
“The 1st EP Boom Bap & Beyond features Manus, Fly Kaison, Kash Tha Kushman, & Andre Martel. EP 2 New Bap & Beyond [..] includes Cakes Da Killa, TT The Artist, MoBo The Great, and Svpreme Ink. EP #3 features Tate Kobang, Bok Nero, Kerwin Prescott and collaborations with i-DEE, Enferno, and DStar.”
How did you and Director Jon Conklin come to design each video?
“I love Conklin. I’ve been working with him for years, so we are definitely on the same wavelength as to what makes a dope video. He and his DP AJ Sartor had a lot of amazing ideas about how to give each video its own unique look.
We had a brainstorm session, thinking about our locations, the vibe of each song etc., and made a plan. Sometimes the plan was to get to a place and make a plan haha. But mostly we had the ideas ahead of time, and Conklin & AJ knew how to make everything look sick.”
This series shows the world that DJing is more than just pressing play. The term DJ doesn’t bring to mind the idea of live performances with a keyboard, two decks, and a Maschine. Most will think of someone who is just manipulating tracks using a controller.
Shiftee changes all of that with his infectious productions and his impressive routines. As a DJ-turned-producer, watching these videos inspire me to find my own unique ways to perform my material in a way that is familiar. Shiftee, any last words for us?
“My New Years resolution for like 4 years has been “big Shiftee release”. I’m happy to get all this work out finally and share it. I would also say this series “& Beyond” gives a good sense of where I’m at as an artist & performer.
Thanks to anyone who’s watching! For my fellow DJ nerds out there, I really enjoyed the constraint of having to make so much material in such a short amount of time. Highly recommended!”
Do you think that DJ/producers will continue to release music in this format? Share your thoughts in teh comments.