Monday, August 30, 2010

Rhythm Scholar Interview & Exclusive Weapon of Mass Destruction!

Born and raised in Chicago, Rhythm Scholar is one of NuFunk’s best-kept secrets. With a host of award-winning remixes and a unique talent for injecting funk into any existing track, as well as his own creations, the U.S DJ/Producer now unleashes his weapon of mass destruction - exclusively for…

Give us a little history about Rhythm Scholar and your musical background?

When I was growing up music was always present. I have distinct memories of certain songs being played in the kitchen or in the car when I was younger. My earliest crate digging was in my father's collection of 45s. As a result, I have a huge knowledge and appreciation of music from the 60s onwards. I thanked my parents more than once in the past few years for making music a big part of my childhood.

I went on to pursue music and radio studies through college. My first 'real' jobs were in record stores and I hosted a rap radio show back in its fresh and creative days. Most recently my remix sets could be heard weekly on the Saturday Night Dance Party on Chicago's 100.3 FM.

DJing seemed a logical step early on for me, given my wants to be involved in whatever I could musically. So I bought a mobile setup and I have been DJing whenever I can for almost 20 years.

As home computers and gear became more and more affordable, I started getting into producing and remixing, always trying to push the limits on whatever system I had.

These days I use a PC laptop, real and virtual instruments, turntables, midi controllers and whatever works to do what I do.

You seem to have been producing for a while, but only really started breaking into the NuFunk scene recently.  How did this come about?

My NuFunk beginning was about a year ago when I did a remix for the song 'Triggaphunk' by Hayz. Since then, I have been offered a few more NuFunk based projects, which you should be hearing in the near future. It's been nice to delve into my funky side for some projects that deserve it.

Tell us about the remix competitions you’ve entered and any awards and achievements?

I’ve entered a handful of remix competitions and have been lucky enough to win prizes in most of them. My Fatboy Slim – ‘Weapon Of Choice', Derek Trucks – ‘Get What You Deserve' and 'Megamix' for Acapellas4U are the most recent prize-winning entries. For the most part, I have taken the winnings and purchased more gear to mess around with.

Are you more of a DJ or producer, or both? 

I’m made up of considerable parts of both. I’ve been DJing for a lot longer than I have been producing, but the music creation is what I spend the most time doing these days.  If you listen to my productions and remixes you will hear that I add a lot of turntable and DJ tricks, so they're closely knit.

What’s the most bizarre comment you’ve had whilst DJing?

Haha - there are always the odd requests for songs - for stuff that would have NO place in a set on certain evenings. That said, I've DJ’d in a banana costume before, so who's to say what's bizarre?

Tell us your all-time favourite track?

What a grand thing. There's no way I could ever imagine naming an all-time favourite track. BUT - in the spirit of all things funk - I have an album that I think is pretty amazing by Manzel – ‘Midnight Theme’. Absolutely wonderful stuff - 70s funk at its best. Do what you have to do to hear it.  It's available on CD and for mp3 download, I promise you'll dig it.

What are your biggest influences when it comes to making music and remixing?

Well, there’s great funk for starters. Parliament and all the George Clinton stuff. Manzel, as I mentioned and of course James Brown. There are too many bands to name. I did compile around 50 songs I dig for my 10 minute 'Funk Solution (Extended Odyssey)’, which is available on my website. The track list on that production is a perfect example of what influences me on the funk side of things.

As far as my remix style, it all started with the edit-style mixes of the 80s. Reel-to-reel and razorblades has had me fascinated for 25 years now. For me, some of he masters are:

The Latin Rascals (Albert Cabrera and Tony Moran) - Check out the craziness on Hall and Oates – ‘Out Of Touch (Dub Version)’ or Information Society – ‘What's On Your Mind (Club Mix)’ or anything they edited for Freeez and John Rocca.

Omar Santana and Carlos Berrios (The Hit Squad). Taken either separately or together these two have done some incredible edit mixes. Check out Duran Duran – ‘Meet El Presidents (Meet El Beat)’ or Peter Gabriel – ‘Steam (Oh, Oh, Let Off Steam Mix Dub)’ or Latin Rascals – ‘Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood (All-Star Edits)’.

I have also always really liked the INXS remixes that Nick Launay did in the 80s. Check out his mixes of 'What You Need', 'New Sensation' and 'Guns in the Sky'.

Your production seems to incorporate a lot of different genres of music, do you like many different styles?

Oh, for sure. My music collection is all over the place. There's something to dig in almost all genres and styles of music. On any one day I might listen to some Classical, Heavy Metal, Big Beat or RnB  I find a lot of inspiration in the varied styles.

Do you just remix or create your own original tracks?

I do both and sometimes it's a big combination of the two. Take, for example, my remixes of 'Weapon Of Choice'. Aside from the Bootsy Collins vocals and the Sly and the Family Stone sample, used from the original, that remix is all original music created by me. Since I was trying out different ideas, the remix is made up of three completely different and separate Rhythm Scholar original tracks that I strung together to make the final creation.

Which artist would you most like to remix for in the future?

I don't have any specific wants as far as artists, but I would like to be involved in projects that remix the older classic songs from yesteryear. Something like the ‘Motown Remixed’ series, or the 'What Is Hip' remix project would be great.

Your production has a unique style.  How important is it for an artist to have his or her own sound?

Well, it certainly doesn't hurt. If you have a recognizable style, people start to look forward to what you do next. That's the way I felt back in the day when I would flip 12" singles over to see who did the editing / mixing on the singles being released. I was overjoyed when certain names appeared, as I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed. If a remixer is unpredictable in style or quality and you don't know what to expect from them, that doesn't always end up being a good thing. I'm glad that there are people who dig the unique things I do. To know that there are some people out there waiting to hear the next thing I work on because of my previous mixes or established style, makes me completely happy.

Any forthcoming releases and collabs?
Yes! As I mentioned, I have some label mixes I'm working with and I'm always working on some remixes just for fun, as well. I also have a bunch of original tunes that I'm trying to find suitable outlets.

What is your ultimate goal in life?

DONE! This NuFunk interview was it! :)

Can you reveal a killer production tip for our members that you wish you’d found out much earlier?

I have a couple of tips that I've always used that I know have helped me make better final productions. First, unless you're up against some deadline that is out of your control, don't rush your projects or final mixes. I have found it very beneficial to let productions 'simmer' - sometimes for days at a time during their creation. Do yourself a favour and take breaks from your tracks every once in a while. Perhaps you can switch to other tracks you're working on for variety or do something completely un-music related for a while like video games or movies. This is especially important right at the end when you THINK your track is done and you just want to get it out there or be done with it. That's when it's most crucial to take a break from the track - if even for a day.  You can then come back to it fresh to see if anything stands out or requires tweaking.

Another thing I ALWAYS do during the final mixing days for a track, is listen to it on a multitude of set-ups. A jam box, headphones or a cheaper set of PC speakers works well for hearing if your track is mixed evenly. See if you can hear all the elements in your track on a sound system you don't usually use as a reference - like your television. One of the BEST settings for deciding if my tracks are mixed or mastered well is my car. I love giving my audio the car-test, because I know what to expect from the sound there and I can tell if anything in my mix isn't fitting properly. Any elements that are either too loud or not present enough should show themselves in the varied audio environments.

What DAW do you use and why?

Ableton Live Suite.  So far, it's the most complete, intuitive and creative piece of software I've ever used to create music. It has some incredible features and the company has been so dedicated in adding new ones and tweaking things for the better. I don't see ever needing to switch as long as it's around. I'm so into it that I also offer Ableton Live tutoring, which is easy to do real-time while chatting over Skype. If anyone is interested in some hourly lessons - let me know.

Tell us something exclusive about Rhythm Scholar that nobody else knows?

I'm teaching myself Sony Vegas Pro with the initial intent of making a video for one of my remixes, which is made up of only Yo Gabba Gabba video clips.

If you were given £2000 to buy one single piece of equipment for your DJing/Production what would you buy?

Do the Yamaha studio monitors that just arrived today count? :) If I had to pick something else, I guess I'd like a 32" or bigger monitor to attach to the laptop.  

What are you thoughts about the swift growth of the community?   

I think it's great and I'm really glad that people are finding out about NuFunk and getting on board. It makes sense, though. The music coming out of the NuFunk scene is some of the better stuff I've heard in recent years. The mix of fresh new funk productions, intertwined with some sampling, is the type of stuff I'm digging the most right now. It's eclectic, funky and it feels right.

Tell us about the FREE download you’ve kindly offered - exclusively for members?
Recently, I did a remix of Fatboy Slim's 'Weapon of Choice' for a Beatport competition. The mix was very well received and that prompted me to finish other remix versions of the track that I was working on. While doing that, I got the idea to take what I was working on and basically obliterate it - but in a funky, creative way. The result of that destructive experiment is the track that I have made exclusively available for the members. It’s my 'Edits of Mass Destruction' remix of 'Weapon of Choice'. Over 3500 tiny audio pieces arranged for your listening pleasure. Enjoy!

To get your copy of Rhythm Scholar's exclusive DJ Weapon, head over to our Member's Vault at the forum. You can't access the vault if you're not a member of, in fact the forum is invisible until you sign in.

Once you sign in, the password for the Vault is in the forum description. We've spray-painted it out in the picture below, but you get the idea:
And if you're not a member yet, get on it and join the rapidly growing community HERE

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