Portraits: Jones Crow
14KT may be First Word Records’ newest signing, but he’s no newbie to making music. Bandcamp recently documented some key moments from his back catalogue but with The Power Of Same, his trajectory takes a distinctly more jazzy turn. On the eve of the record’s release, Bonafide asked the producer to reveal a little background about himself and his work.
Your music shows evidence of so many influences and you’ve dipped into different styles, but what’s the significance of the pseudonym for this new project with First Word, and how is it differentiated from your previous work?
IAMABEENIE is a name I use to signify the more personal jazz style side of my artistry. I’m mostly known for hip hip production and since I’ve never created an album like this before, I felt like the name would help the listener understand how I’m approaching the sound of the record.
Creating a jazz album on a Maschine sounds like a challenge – could you give us an insight into your process?
The process usually starts with me having a jam session with myself. Whether I pick up an instrument, chop a sample, or play a VST plugin on the Maschine pads, I’ll usually record each instrument live in 10- 15 minute takes. I do that so I don’t really have to worry about sequencing and being a slave to a loop. That process allowed me to have more freedom to move around as I was arranging the songs. I love recording this way.
Do things feel fresh working with First Word?
Definitely. Everyone at First Word has been awesome, encouraging, and supportive of my music. They have released some really great projects and were named Label of the Year recently, so it’s been exciting working together at this time.
What did you learn about music from singing at church? What do you still carry with you today that you learned back then?
From singing in baptist church choir when I was a kid, I actually learned some important things. I learned the difference between a soprano, alto, and tenor. I learned how to harmonise and sing in key. I also learned how to sing “out” and sing with emotion and feeling, because gospel music to me is more of the spirit, the emotion, and the heart, than in the technicalities of theory.
I still carry all these things I learned back then into practice in my music today.
Tell us about your early days making pause tapes and rapping over them.
I started making pause tapes around 1995-96. At the time, I was really into rapping and writing rhymes. I didn’t have any equipment to make beats to rap over, so I started recording samples from my parents’ record collections and recording hip hop instrumentals on cassette tapes.
I figured out how to keep a sample looping by repeatedly using the ‘record and pause’ button style to make instrumentals on my dual tape deck boombox. On my Bandcamp page, I have a project called 20 Years of Beats, where I document my personal history in beat making. I made a mix where you can listen to what my pause tapes sounded like back then.
For My Sanity is labelled a ‘freedom project’ – could you expand on that?
With this project, I really just wanted to create without worrying about the stresses of the recording process.The music was all made in the moment. I didn’t sit on it and overanalyse it.
When I think of freedom, the music I connect with the most is jazz music, so that’s what came out while jamming. I love the improvisation, creating how I feel, not feeling obligated to make a certain type of sound.
Why was the album not originally intended for release?
The music was really just for personal therapy. I just wanted to get it out of my system.
You won the Red Bull Big Tune Detroit. What do you think about the dissolution of RBMA?
I never got a chance to attend RBMA. I applied a couple times and wasn’t able to go, but I really appreciated what
they were doing and I loved watching the lectures through the years. I learned a lot from them. It really sucks to see it shut down.
You’ve released on Street Corner Music, is House Shoes a dying breed in terms of an artist that supports other artists?
Shout out to my brother House Shoes for continuing to spread dope music into the world.
Naw, I don’t think House Shoes is a dying breed because I do see artists supporting other artists more. Since many artists are taking the independent route with music more, I’m definitely seeing more labels being started and run by artists now.
Your Bandcamp is full of your beats, how have you found that platform as a tool to getting your music out there? What else works for you?
I found Bandcamp useful as a platform for me to connect directly to my listeners – who want to support the projects I release. As an independent artist, music being available on as many outlets as possible is what has worked for me. Instagram has actually been a great help when posting up beats and ideas.
What’s next for you and in what guises?
More Iamabeenie music. More RSXGLD hip hop music. Hopefully more live performances. More beats for the people to enjoy.