Interview with Ribbonmouthrabbit

‘Follow the White Rabbit’ will be released tomorrow, Thursday December 20th.

The Intro, entitled “Follow the White Rabbit” couldn’t have a more suitable title. Right away, ribbonmouthrabbit lures you to his own musical wonderland. Close your eyes and you can picture Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop strolling in a dark alley, a group of mobsters engaging in a “Criminal Conspiracy”, a ferry between Spain and Morocco “At the Strait of Gibraltar”, a man hunted down by unknown assailants in “The Prideaux Manifesto”. Each musical segment tells a different story. You just have to let your imagination take over.
Follow the White Rabbit is a brilliant debut LP featuring Dusted Wax Kingdom artists Giyo, Mr Moods, Thegntlmn and Innereyefull. We were lucky to meet with ribbonmouthrabbit to find out more about the artist and his music.

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Who is ribbonmouthrabbit?

I’m a Hungarian guy, who just turned 30 and has been listening to music all his life. The nickname came from my girlfriend, who knew it would stick.

How long have you been making beats?
I started working on my first track (A Man of Dreams) in July and I was amazed at how quick it turned out to be an actual piece of music. I heard the original sample in an episode of Nip / Tuck and fell in love with it. For this piece, I was only experimenting with samples as I have never learned music theory or how to play an instrument. I had to rely on my ears.
I spent the whole summer getting to know the software I used for this track and gathering samples. I came up with a couple of tracks in the process, but none of them got close to the first one. Beginner’s luck for sure.

How would you describe your music?
I’d say it’s “simple”. But seriously, I really can’t describe what I do. If I hear a good sample, I’ll try to pair it with every single sample in my library, just to see if they click. Unfortunately, I don’t have as many samples as I would want, but I’m digging whenever I have a chance. I’m trying to get some jazz and blues influences in my music and turn it into something a bit cinematic.

(Not Such A) Clear Day

What is it like being an instrumental hip-hop/ trip-hop producer in Hungary?

I wouldn’t call myself a producer yet, I’ve just made my first steps and there is so much to learn. I got to know a couple of really talented and friendly Hungarian artists, who helped me with sampling.
I would really like to meet some of my heroes in music wherever they come from.

Can you talk about your experience with the online trip-hop/instrumental hip-hop community?

It’s been the trip of my life. Ever since Dimitar ‘vpd’ Kalinov asked me for a mix of mine to podcast on the Dusted Wax Kingdom website, I’ve been exposed to a strong and lively community.
Everyday, I am amazed to see how many talented, helpful and open-minded producers are out there. I’ve been invited to share my new tracks on several groups, where artists share their music, but also their favorite samples. It’s a great way to get inspiration, valuable feedback and constructive criticism. Whenever I asked for advice or had question about software, hardware or samples, many producers were there to help me figure things out.

Can you tell us about your involvement with the netlabel Dusted Wax Kingdom?
I think I found ‘Mystical Force’ by Citizen Crane on a compilation album and I had to find similar tunes. That’s how my journey through the Kindom’s catalogue began. I downloaded everything that was available, listened carefully and used tracks I really loved in my mixes.
At some point, I shared a mix entitled ‘From Earth to Moon on the Crow’ (funny anecdote: that mix was not as popular as the other ones I have made since) on the DWK’s facebook page and I was basically speechless when I got a message from Dimitar (CEO of DWK) saying that he wanted to feature it as a podcast on the site. It was huge for me. I didn’t think that what I was making was that good.
Since then I tried to help the family as much as I could by making mixes, uploading releases on certain sites and blogs, promoting, finding new talent online and inviting them to join the label. A couple of weeks ago, I even did a live gig where I only played music from the DWK netlabel. This 2.5 hour set was then available for streaming the next day.

What made you want to be actively involved in the music scene as a producer?

I never thought I would end up making my own music. As I mentioned earlier, I’ve never learned to play an instrument and have no basics in music theory. I don’t know anything about music production (you’ll realize that when you’ll listen to my upcoming LP). But, somehow, after having listened to some of my mixes, some people told me I was one step away from producing my own beats. So I started gathering info on software and hardware I should use and I finally went for it last summer. I got a lot of good feedback for my first track and I thought that I might be on to something. Then I started doubting my abilities for months because I couldn’t make anything as good as that first track.

What equipment or software do you use to make music?
I use Ableton Live since it’s really user friendly and easy to start with. Of course it’s going to take years for me to learn everything the software has to offer. I find it really hard to learn from books or tutorial videos so I relied on my label-mates’ experience and wisdom!
As for hardware, it’s kind of a joke. Over the summer, I used old set of cheap PC speakers and my BOSE triport headphones. None of those things are worth anything as music production tools. When I got back to Hungary, I used my 5.1 PC speakers. What an upgrade! All that to say: yes, I have to invest in a soundcard and a pair of actual speakers. But I hope these technical shortcomings did not have too much of a negative effect on the music I made so far. I also bought an Akai MPD 32, but haven’t had a chance to use it yet. I need to know how Ableton works first.
It would be nice to play my own stuff with a sequencer at some point, but it will take me years to get there! And of course I should start by making tracks worth playing live!

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Can you tell us a bit more about your process when producing beats?

It’s pure trial and error for me. I usually dig for old tunes online and the try to find a way to turn them into samples. Then I basically play with them, chop them up and see what can be used. Then the hard part comes. I don’t have a huge sample library, I started off with only Kovacs samples. He had a remix competition last November, and I downloaded all of his samples. Amazing sounds, I can’t thank him enough for them. They can be heard in almost all my tracks if you know what you are looking for. So back to your question: I take the time to try to find a decent drum break for the sample I fell in love with and then, I add more sounds, piece by piece. The problem is that I still don’t know what I’m looking for. I have no idea what instrument or sample I should use to achieve what I’m trying to do. That’s why most of my tracks sound a bit too simple in my opinion. I don’t really know how to “fill them up” so to say.

How would you describe the atmosphere you’re trying to create with your music?
I am a very laid-back person, and I want my tracks to be calm and relaxing and sometimes melancholic. But I’m still trying to find my own vibe. I try to depart from the mood of the original sample and make sure my tracks sound different. I think I will stick with downtempo and jazzy hip-hop. At some point, I did try to make a track that sounded like something by Tosca, who were a huge influence for me. I also like blues a lot and I think I will consider using sample from that genre to come up with something interesting.

A Man of Dreams

What do you do when you are not making music?

When I’m alone I usually sit in front of my PC and do nothing of importance!
I go out with friends when I can and also play music live whenever I get a chance. My girlfriend says I’m a computer addict and unfortunately there is some truth to it, but ever since I started making music, I feel like I’m being productive. That’s a nice excuse, isn’t it?
I also love making mixes of my favourite tracks. I made more than 35 mixes in a year (I skipped a couple of months here and there) and I although I do mix with a controller, I think the selection is more important than the equipment. I learned not to use the synch button and of course I would love to try turntables but that’s going to have to wait.

Any other releases from DWK artists in the near future?
There is plenty to come in the new year, as far as I know. We now have more than 120 producers in the roster and most of them are constantly producing new material. I know Groove Cereal is working on a new album, as well as Erik Jackson together with Mr. Moods. There is definitely a lot to look forward to.

What was the last song you heard that blew your mind?
The first one that comes into mind is ‘Leaving’ by Mononome. I listened to it so many times during the summer, my colleagues begged me to stop. My other hero is Long Arm, basically any track of his blows my mind. I was also fortunate enough to see Hidden Orchestra play live in Budapest and I had goose bumps the whole time. You have to listen to ‘The Burning Circle’ if you haven’t had a chance yet.

You can listen to ribbonmouthrabbit’s mix “fragile things”, which is one of soytang’s all time favourite jazzy hip-hop & trip hop mix:

If you think ribbonmouthrabbit deserves a top spot among internet cloudcasters, don’t hesitate to VOTE FOR HIM on mixcloud’s Best of 2012 by clicking here!

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