Words by: Mike Styles
“As I keep progressing further into sound I find myself diverging out of the normal and really searching within myself to hear what I like.”
Beats of All-Nations Radio Episode 008:
wave Groove (Los Angeles)
2014 was a big year for Los Angeles bassed producer wave Groove. The Critical Beatdown member, joined up with Beat Cinema, and created his own ‘hub’ for music with DJ Erok called Voidshift Radio, names that all ring loud in Southern California. He was put on heavy line ups and generated a nice buzz, stealing shine from headliners on every bill he played. His new album DATA / FORMAT / BEAT / PROJECT was beautifully constructed and is available now (links below). On this mix wave Groove plays a few of his new tunes side by side with some handpicked others.
In the interview below wave Groove tells us about his evolution from dj to production, his take on turntables and controllers, opening for SBTRKT and what to expect at Re:Fresh Valentine’s Day 2015: wave Groove Album Release Party.
Tools of the trade. What are your weapons of choice?
In terms of producing beats I use a combination of my SP-404 and Ableton (w/ Midi Controllers). The 404 is mainly where I store my go to drum samples and route different effects that can’t be made in Ableton. Ableton is where I come up with my melodies and progressions with the use of VSTs and soft synths. I then write my songs in Ableton after everything is organized. When I play live I use a Novation Twitch, mainly because of its quick access to Serato DJ effects to texture my mixes in a more playful manner. I also use the SP-404 live so that I can play versions of my songs that have pieces stemmed out. If the club has turntables I will just use those but the aesthetic to use controllers gives me more flexibility in terms of how I can sound different live.
What are your roots as a DJ and how have your sets evolved over the years?
I started listening to hip hop at a young age and the varieties that swim in its sub-genres; top-40 radio, underground cuts and instrumental beats. It was around the time I graduated high school that I learned how to beat match. The more I got into the hobby of mixing records and learning about open format DJing, the better I got at beat matching/nudging with Technics 1200s. It was only natural that I collected records from friends, family, and the few record stores available at the time. I always had an open-mind when it came to collecting music, that being said I also had to learn how to be very selective to what sounds fun and understandable to me. Youtube and DJs around me helped me learn how to cut faster, scratch, understand crowd control, and play for different clubs. Different environments call for different play styles, but I wanted to diverge into playing records I wanted to play. When I first started out I used to collect Rap, Hip Hop and RnB songs that I had fun listening to. I got into Uptempo music around the age of 19-21 and only really digging underground internet labels at the time (Ed Banger, Early Mad Decent, Institubes, Baltimore Club, early Jersey, shoutout Brick Bandits, Chicago Jack, French House). These uptempo selections had mad groove and were a lot less fluff in my opinion, and as you can see today they really take advantage of these roots. These uptempo songs also didn’t last 10 mins, usually around 2-3 mins of playtime. I never really stopped digging for Hip Hop Instrumental beats, so it ultimately lead me to the LA beat scene and learning about folks like Co.Fee, Flylo, Dibiase, etc. It was around 2012 I saw that instrumental hip hop sat on its own, people were sequencing beats like how the uptempo scene did it, full written songs with verse/chorus structure. I always played with an open format style but there were times when I was called to DJ a specific style.
Turntables vs. Controller…
I prefer both for different scenarios, and I have a deep interest in using both – whatever gets the job done. I learned the concept of beat matching with a VCI-100 from Vestax (RIP) and when I had the money to buy tables I had to learn how to play on Technics because they were the standard everywhere. Learning on techs teaches how to be gentle with quick finesse, once you have that down and go with a controller you can pretty much apply the same techniques to achieve the same results. Also pitching and pitch riding the turntable with real records makes alot more sense to me, except the part where you can’t really go around the +/- 6-8 area without it sound different, of course Serato takes care of that. I embrace new technology, it allows advanced users to flex their capabilities while helps starting DJs become better at the art of mixing. Win Win, Nuff said.
Describe your sound.
I like making beat constructions with a taste of electronic textures. I rely on a lot of synth based sounds, laced with heavy beats, applied with verse chorus structure. I dabble within the 70-90bpm range which gives me a lot of freedom to fill and express different textures. This range gives me the opportunity to mix my productions with other hip hop cuts when I’m out DJing somewhere. A lot of the songs I make are a creation of what I want out of beats and rhythms; sounds and sequences that get me excited is what drive me. Constructing beats in this way gives me more mental freedom to finally make music I want to hear without waiting for some person out there to make it. As I keep progressing further into sound I find myself diverging out of the normal and really searching within myself to hear what I like.
What has influenced your direction and where do you want to take your production in the near future?
A lot of influence comes from sounds that I heard from Capcom and Konami/Bemani video games of the 90’s. I think their music directors back then had some very interesting techniques on sound with limited amount of technology. This incorporated with hip hop beats really yield a certain interest to me. People like Pharrell, Dibiase, Madlib, Para One, and Surkin gave me a good background to understand music on a technical way – what works, whats booming, and how to achieve exciting compositions without over producing. Toward the future I want to keep making music the way I do and explore collaborations in a way that they will be a back and forth inspiration.
You opened for SBTRKT at their Los Angeles Album Release party a few months ago, what was that like?
I got there really early like a job interview, buckled up and did my thing. I think my concern was to play something out of the norm for SBTRKT fans, and playing beats that supplemented the transition to Goldlink. My live sets usually contain most of my beats and complimentary songs that I believe are choice selections for those listeners. I am always used to being an opening DJ so it wasn’t hard for me to just get up there and service what needed to be done. The opportunity to bring my songs out to the public like that gave me a glimpse of hope, that there are people out there with open ears to listen to new sounds.
This last year has seemed to be big for you, building up your brand, you are definitely more in demand. Your third album, DATA / FORMAT / BEAT / PROJECT, has been much anticipated on the West Coast beat scene. Was there anything in particular that set it off this time around, or is it simply dues paid?
Last year was a time for me to connect with people around me, and music was the only thing that I knew close to my heart that linked me to new communities. Voidshift is a representation of everything Erok and I do creatively, and a place we call home to share the creations from us and our friends. Releasing D.F.B.P. has been on my mind for the last half of 2014. I usually create my music in bursts and when I finish a compilation of beats I then call the grouping an album, which gives me more mental freedom about having a full product out to the public. It is an album of songs that I finally wanted to hear that totally interests and compliments my favorite music at the moment.
Describe the work going into the custom packaging for physical copies.
So for the custom packaging I got inspiration from Afta-1 and a quick conversation I had with him about giving people a personal hand copy of work. Everything about the CD package was hand cut, pasted and measured to the tee. Even the stickers (exclusive Voidshift and Beat Cinema graphics in representation to the album graphic) were handcrafted by me. I only made 20 of these CD packs for close people and will be making a new run of 10 for people that didn’t get one yet.
We like that you are down with so many local and influential operations, Critical Beatdown, Void Shift Radio and Beat Cinema. Does your role differ in any of these groups, and are each of these groups reaching towards the same goal through different audiences?
Being part of each of these operations helps me communicate with music on another level. They all call for different styles of music culture and my goal is to learn from each of them to show people around the world that music is a shared art – that it doesn’t matter how, where, or who made it, somewhere out there people need to be inspired by it. Since before joining everyone, I am a professional sound engineer and have been offering my mix services to many artists/studios. For Critical Beatdown I helped create new content for Erok and the crew – but mainly I am their go to guy if they need sound services like mixing or mastering. My job at Beat Cinema is currently to help promote the events and curate product – expect to see some new things from us soon. Voidshift is home for all creations I make with my friends and we are not quite a label but simply a hub of individuals that continually grow and create different media.
Album just dropped, its been on repeat here since Jan. 28th. Always a plus to hit landmarks in the first month of the year. What goals are you looking to accomplish for the rest of 2015?
I’ve already starting making new beat ideas and looking to push them out again within a few months. As far as sharing my music, I look forward to building the radio show further and getting more guests (you guys are invited). I also want to keep sharing Voidshift crew music out there too, we have a lot in store for this year.
Heavy grooves, beats, choice select songs, with an open format style. Also live versions of my productions. With love.
Any advice to the creative types…
If you believe in your craft, be honest with yourself and trust in it. Keep learning, reading, and gaining inspiration from many things in life. Don’t worry about what people say about your craft because if you made something and put it out, it’s already validated in your world. And for the lol, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure (someone out there will like something another wont).
The Voidshift Crew (Erok, Paul Elsewho, Blaue, D-Cyde, Triton Bloom, Nick Pacoli, Reply, Rick G., Brian Folk, Kab, and Indigo/child), Critical Beatdown, Beat Cinema (Rick, DMM, Major Gape, Dropdead, Gypsy Mamba, and Repeated Measures), my friends back home, family out there, and of course Beats of All-Nations.
wave Groove – Masamune
Da-P dabeatx – Last Night
PYRMDPLAZA – Glassssss
wave Groove – Emerald
Sango – Feelings
wave Groove – Night Shades
10A – The One
Da-P dabeatx – Phantasy
wave Groove – Abstract IQ
wave Groove – Eye.Wnt.U
Sango – Maluco
wave Groove – Visualized Haze
Lakim – Superb
wave Groove – Crescent Phase
Jo_Def – U Mnd
wave Groove – Coil Type
Triton Bloom – OOOOOOH
Blaue – Perfect Kandinsky (Instrumental)
wave Groove – The Gleamer
wave Groove – Transparently
Wayne Wonder x Munchi – Hope (DJ Ayres Blend)
Pomo – So Fine