interview with Elyonbeats

I discovered elyonbeats’ music through a random facebook link to one of his early songs. I assumed that he had been producing for a while, but he had actually just started making music. Elyonbeats is like his music: kind, enthusiastic and versatile. He recently took some time to talk to soytang about his music, inspiration and his upcoming album.

[soytang] Who is Elyonbeats?
[elyonbeats]. My name is Jung Kim, I’m an underground jazz hip hop producer from Sacramento.

[soytang] You have a very distinctive style, yet it’s difficult to classify and label it. Your early tracks sounded like remixes of Miyazaki’s movie soundtracks, then we started to hear more jazz melodies, and, more recently, you surprised me when you sampled “Que reste-t-il de nos amours ?” (editorial note: a French popular song first recorded in 1942 by Charles Trenet) for your track “Ma Petite Amie”. How would you describe the genre of music you produce?
[elyonbeats] Yes, that’s right! You could say I make jazz hip-hop, but I also try to incorporate elements from classical hip-hop, cut and paste hip-hop and chillout.

[soytang] Tell us a bit about your influences.
[elyonbeats] Listening to Nujabes made me want to try and make chill, mellow jazz hop beats. You could say he is a great source of inspiration for me. But I also try and learn from other producers, like Sam Ock, who inspired me to produce music from scratch using FL studio. I got the idea of experimenting with cut and paste sample beats from DJ Premier.

[soytang] What do you hope to achieve musically?
[elyonbeats] Well, my musical goal in general is simple. I believe that this talent for producing was given to me by God. So, basically, all I want to do is to use this gift to glorify his name. I’d like my name to be out there in the hip-hop community. Someday, I would love to see one of my albums being released in Japan through Goontrax.

[soytang] Please tell us a bit about the underground jazz hip-hop community in Sacramento.
[elyonbeats] Sadly, desperately sadly, jazz-hop continues to be a mysterious genre here in Sacramento. I don’t see too many people listening to that kind of music. The only musical movement that everyone is familiar with is the mainstream hip-hop community.

[soytang] This seems to be the case everywhere. Many underground producers tend to complain about it, and have developed online networks through blogs. This leads me to my next question: what is your experience with the online jazz-hop community?
[elyonbeats] To be honest, I really love the online Jazz hop community. It’s a great feeling to be able to connect with other jazz hop fans. If it wasn’t for the online jazz hop community, I wouldn’t have been able to be where I am today. The famous jazz hip hop music promoter bob42jh introduced me to producers like Masterclass. It’s fun being connected with others, especially with other beat makers. Masterclass gave me a bit of advice of making beats when I first started making beats, about a year ago. Through this online community, I was able to meet and collaborate with amazing rappers like Junoflo, Jonwonder, Jas Mace, Awon, etc. I’ve been friends with DJ Kross and Benevolent Vibe for a while. Let’s face it, although this community isn’t very active in Sacramento, it’s growing bigger and bigger every day on the Internet. Let’s hope that one day, it’ll be important enough to displace the mainstream music we hear on the radio.

[soytang] There are many young aspiring beatmakers out there, and you’ve achieved quite a lot in the past year (editorial note: since elyonbeats started producing his first beats). A few days ago, you told me about one of your “mentors” who told you that you can’t really say “it’s your music” unless you truly can’t stop listening to your own track and that if you find your self having trouble going to bed at 3am because you can’t stop listening to your “masterpiece”, that’s when you can call it “YOUR music”, is that right? What tips or advice would you give to those who share the same passion for hip-hop and want to start producing their own music?
[elyonbeats] Haha, yes that’s what masterclass told me when I first started making beats… valuable advice! You know, I would tell other aspiring producers to try their best to be creative and find their own style. I make all of my beats at home, I don’t have a fancy studio, I don’t even have a keyboard, HD speakers, HD headsets, or even a drum machine! I believe that a beatmaker should try working with whatever he has and make the best use of it.

[soytang] I agree. I have heard really terrible music made in luxurious basement apartments-turned studios with top-notch equipment. But then you have some broke students exhausting whatever resources they have, even if they’re just using an old version of FL Studio or Garage band, and making incredible beats. I believed British rapper/producer Mike Skinner (a.k.a The Streets) started recording his first tracks in a sound booth he had built by himself with an old mattress…
Anyway, as I mentioned earlier, your style has matured over the past years and you’ve been experimenting with different samples and genres. Can you tell us a bit more about this evolution?

[elyonbeats] My music has evolved considerably over the past few months. When I was working on my album ‘Beginning”, I did not know a things about sampling. I’d say 9 songs out 10 in that album were made from scratch. Then, for my next album “Remedy”, I started looking for interesting samples to use. You could say it was my first time experimenting with sampling. I guess it would be safe to say that by the time “Hip Hop Alley” was released, I was comfortable with this process, but then I decided to revert to purely original productions for my most recent album “My Dream”, and the vast majority of the tracks were made from scratch. Through lots and lots of practice, I have gone from plain, dry sounds to rich texture and a unique blend of different elements and sounds.

[soytang] So what can we expect for your next album?
[elyonbeats] I’m currently working on what is essentially a collection of jazz-hop beats. The album is entitled “Broken Time” and will be released on bandcamp on May 5th. You’ll be able to purchase a digital copy for $7 USD. “Broken Time” will be a way for me to explore many different jazz styles and influences, from simple mellow piano melodies to more upbeat bossa nova beats. If you’re a fan of jazz-hop, I’m pretty sure you’ll love this album.

for more music by Elyonbeats, check out his bandcamp page:

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